Local organizations join together to improve lives for people struggling to meet their basic needs

No single person or organization alone can tackle the most pressing social issues that people across our communities face, such as meeting their basic needs. And this past year, due to the pandemic, the needs in our city have grown.

The average family of four in our community needs at least $48,349 per year just to cover the basics—and the basics have grown to include access to technology. For many local families, meeting even the basic necessities of life means making impossible trade-offs. For example, a single mother might have to choose between buying groceries to feed her children or paying the bills so her utilities aren’t shut off. These are choices that often have no easy answers.

To help address these needs, United Way has partnered with the Calgary Stampede, Women in Need Society (WINS), Ismaili Muslim Community – Ismaili CIVIC, Electronic Recycling Association, and Nextdoor, the neighbourhood app, to launch the Basic Needs Round-Up for the second consecutive year.

About the Basic Needs Round-Up

The Basic Needs Round-Up is a city-wide initiative to help ensure local people have access to food, shelter, hygiene products, and the resources they need to get out of poverty and see a brighter tomorrow.

Donations of grocery store gift cards, Calgary Transit tickets, personal hygiene items, baby supplies, cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, technology devices, activities for kids and seniors, and passes to family-friendly activities such as the Calgary Zoo will be collected through the Round-Up on Saturday, June 26. In addition, monetary donations are encouraged at any time to support people in need across Calgary and area.

The power of working together

Together with the generous support of our partners and local community, we are helping ensure no one is faced with making impossible decisions about things many of us take for granted—such as choosing between buying groceries or paying bills. Thank you to these organizations for standing #UnitedApart and showing their community spirit!

Calgary Stampede

Last summer, United Way joined forces with the Calgary Stampede to launch the first Basic Needs Round-Up. Steve McDonough, president & chairman of the board for the Calgary Stampede, expressed his excitement to once again combine our strengths for the good of our community: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to join United Way of Calgary and Area and many other incredible organizations on this project for the second year in a row. We know that many Calgarians continue to struggle to meet their basic needs and our Stampede volunteers would like to play a small part in trying to make this a little easier.”

Volunteers from the Stampede will be helping us pick up donations from households across the city on June 26 and will be joined by another one of our partners.

Ismaili CIVIC

Ismaili CIVIC, a global initiative by the Ismaili Muslim community to improve quality of life in local communities by contributing time and knowledge, will also be saddling up to collect donations and engage volunteers in the Round-Up.

“Ismaili CIVIC is excited to be part of this year’s Basic Needs Round-Up to work collectively with other local service agencies to improve quality of life for all Calgarians,” says the Ismaili Muslim Community. “What better way to demonstrate our community spirit than to support the vulnerable members of our community!”


WINS has seen the need for support across our city expand over the past year. Traditionally serving female clients and their families, the organization opened its doors to supporting men since the pandemic began. For the second year, WINS will help sort and distribute items donated through the Round-Up to local agencies, so they can be shared with those in need throughout our community.

“Although it is possible to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact has been far reaching and long lasting on many people in our city. At WINS, we have seen the need for essential services and basic need items skyrocket over the past 15 months, and this won’t change until there is substantial recovery in all industries, which takes time,” says Karen Ramchuk, CEO and president of WINS.

“We are honoured to once again partner on this initiative so we can continue helping Calgarians hit the hardest. By donating to the Basic Needs Round-Up, you’re not only helping a Calgarian in need, you’re helping us build a brighter future together.”

Electronic Recycling Association

Through this past year we have learned that access to technology has become a basic need, as people work from home, children attend online classes, and vulnerable seniors isolate. To help meet this need, our friends at Electronic Recycling Association will be refurbishing and distributing used smartphones, tablets, and laptops that are generously donated to the Basic Needs Round-Up. The organization shares why they’re excited to join the initiative:

“The ERA is excited to partner with United Way to help collect unwanted electronics from the community. These devices will be refurbished with any personal data destroyed and then donated to charitable organizations in need. This gives them access to reliable technology while allowing them to apply their resources to what they’re good at, developing programs to help Calgarians struggling with poverty, health concerns, or are otherwise experiencing challenges. At the same time, you will be helping to keep e-waste out of landfills. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!” -Electronic Recycling Association


To help us get the word out about the Basic Needs Round-Up, our partner Nextdoor will lend its platform to share information with users. Nextdoor, an app that connects neighbours, is a place to greet newcomers, access trusted local information, share recommendations, and support local businesses.

“Nextdoor connects you with the people and places near you to spread kindness, strengthen the community, and create meaningful change in your neighbourhood,” said Christopher Doyle, managing director, Nextdoor Canada. “Our goal is to ensure everyone has a neighbourhood they can rely on and we’re honoured to bring Calgary neighbours together to support this important event.”


IKEA is generously donating their parking lot to serve as a drive-through drop-off location, new to the Round-Up this year. As Isabelle Brigliadori, market manager explained, “IKEA’s vision is ‘To create a better everyday life for the many people.’ Participating in the Basic Needs Round-Up with our community partners helps this vision come to life in our hometown. We are very excited to be a part of this event!”