United Way of Niagara continued its efforts to help improve the community with its annual Make A Difference Day fundraiser on Wednesday. 

The fundraiser, which involves sales of special editions of the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union Sun & Journal, helps to support the organization's annual campaign while generating additional revenue needed to donate to 25 different community organizations. 

Volunteers helped sell morning newspapers at locations in the Falls, Lockport and other parts of Niagara County

"What United Way does generally, and that applies for all United Ways, is that we fundraise for the community. So we gather funds that we eventually distribute among the community throughout different agencies that we fund and their programs," said Erika Kastel, director of resource development for the United Way of Greater Niagara. 

The United Way decided to have the event later in the year than usual because organizers of the fundraiser wanted to get the school districts involved. Typically, they have separate Make A Difference Day during August. 

"We wanted to target the school districts. We wanted to have the superintendent and the teachers involved," Kastel said. 

The United Way's campaign runs through Nov. 30 and the organization's goal is to raise $1.15 million. 

Kastel believes increased sponsorship from organizations like the Union-Sun & Journal, the Niagara Gazette, National Grid, Wegmans, Key Bank and Ferguson Electric helped raise more money and exceed last year's totals. When organizers finish counting funds from all of the corners, she's confident Make A Difference Day 2017 will have raised between $15,000 and $16,000. 

Some of the organizations that receive support from the United Way include: American Red Cross; Boy Scouts of Great Niagara Frontier Council; Consumer Credit Counseling; the Dale Association; Girl Scouts of WNY; Inter-Community Services; Literacy New York; the Mental Health Association; Niagara Community Action Program; Niagara County Veterans Service Agency and Niagara University. 

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