United Way's GenNext council, 13 Winnipeggers in their 20s and 30s, is organizing a boot drive on Wednesday, the first donation event the council has run since it formed in 2007.
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"We're just so happy and excited," said Jason Granger, senior manager of strategic initiatives with United Way.
GenNext is designed to expose young people on the cusp of their professional lives to the work United Way does in Winnipeg, said Jane Helbrecht, GenNext volunteer and vice-chair.
"It's engaging, networking, making sure people know what United Way is about so that when they do get the ask to be a part of [a] United Way campaign down the road, they know what it's all about," she said.
GenNext has about 500 members in Winnipeg, said Helbrecht, and it is actively recruiting more Gen Y members — people born in the 1980s to the early 2000s.
Boots collected on Wednesday will contribute to United Way's annual Koats for Kids drive that runs October to February.
"The GenNext folks decided to look at Koats for Kids as an opportunity to connect to community, learn about community, and to give back," Granger said.
Each year United Way collects, washes and distributes about 6,000 coats, boots and other winter gear to kids, he said.
The boot drive takes place Wednesday from 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. at the United Way parking lot, 580 Main St. Volunteers are collecting boots of all sizes, from toddlers to teens. Donors can simply pull up to the building and volunteers will take the boots. In exchange, United Way will provide free Jonnies sticky buns and coffee.