It’s Sept. 17, or do something live, distanced, on Sept. 16

WHATCOM ­— A virtual United Way event this year? The answer is Yes.

“We can’t get together in person this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t unite in the spirit of giving back and helping others!” is the word from the United Way.

The virtual kickoff event will be from noon to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. Go to https://www.unitedwaywhatcom.org/events/ to participate.

This is what to expect:

Learn how United Way-funded programs are helping the community during COVID and beyond.

Hear from local donors about why they are inspired to give.

Meet Jane, NaColle and Damien, a local family with a very special United Way story.

If the thought of not being in person is just too much to bear, a Live United drive-through opportunity will be offered Wednesday, Sept. 16, at noon in the parking lot at 1500 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham. Stop by for a fresh T-shirt, a sweet treat, and a virtual hug from six feet away.

As to current operations, United Way of Whatcom County has received a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to formalize a collaborative partnership to address the childcare shortage in the community.

This is a united partnership with the Opportunity Council, Mt. Baker Foundation, Generations Forward and others who are engaged in the work and care about helping local kids and families thrive.

“We began focusing on child care last year, when it became very clear that this is a critical issue for Whatcom County families. Not only is there a shortage of quality, affordable child care slots for kids in our community, but the child care options that are available come at a very high cost. Care for two young children can easily run upwards of $1,800 per month, often surpassing the cost of rent, making it the largest single expense in a typical family budget.”

According to recent ALICE data for Whatcom County, 77% of all families with children with a female head of household can’t make ends meet. The cost of full-time child care for one infant can require up to 56% of a single parent’s total income, making it unattainable for many in the community.