INL donation

Idaho National Laboratory employees Adrienne Petrovic (left), Misty Benjamin (center) and Kate Meehan (right) coordinated the lab’s campaign.

Idaho National Laboratory has given its largest dollar amount yet in its annual employee fundraiser for the United Way.

This year, employees from INL and Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages the lab for the Department of Energy, raised more than $630,000 for the nonprofit organization. Last year, INL donated approximately $550,000, meaning it beat last year’s record donation by $80,000.

The funds will specifically go toward United Way branches across eastern and southeast Idaho that assist the ALICE program. ALICE, or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, helps people who are “working but unable to afford the basic household necessities, including housing, child care, health care, food and transportation,” according to the United Way. United Way of Southeastern Idaho serves more than 80,000 people per year; United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County services more than 30 programs across seven counties.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our INL Team,” said Ron Crone, INL associate laboratory director for the Materials and Fuels Complex, in a news release. “In a year of adversity, we rose to the challenge and provided for those most impacted by housing and food insecurity in our community.”

This year, United Way reported an increase in food scarcity, especially among low-income children and seniors. INL’s donation will fund tutoring, meal deliveries and access to medical care for those without insurance.

With more than half of its 5,200 employees working remotely during the pandemic, INL and United Way staff had to come up with new ways to connect employees to the campaign virtually. INL employees were invited to become an ALICE family through a United Way simulation that “challenges the user to make it through a month of living expenses on a very limited budget that requires heart wrenching choices such as foregoing dental care in order to keep food on the table.”

“The campaign team came up with innovative solutions to share the daily struggles so many families face each day,” said United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County CEO Christine Wiersema in the release. “We believe that hearts and minds were stirred to action upon understanding how each donation enables hardworking people across our region.”

Those interested in trying the ALICE simulation can find it at unitedforalice.com.

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