Community dinner kicks off United Way giving campaign

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Crystal Sinclair had a unique family dinner Thursday night that involved sharing a table with hundreds of other people, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Sinclair, her husband Ryan Sinclair and their two children, Ryan and Rylee, were among those at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s “Dine United” dinner Thursday at Eastern Market. The dinner marks the beginning of the organization’s annual community giving campaign that has raised more than $150 million since 2012.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Crystal Sinclair of South Lyon, a donor who benefited from United Way programs growing up. “They did a great job putting it together. It’s definitely giving back to the community.”

Marchionne, who is chairing the nonprofit organization’s 2016-18 fundraising drive, has a goal of raising $100 million during his two-year term for the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“The United Way for Southeastern Michigan is the catalyst for bringing together public, private and nonprofit sectors to create positive change in our region,” said Marchionne, who flew back from Europe for the event.

The fundraising drive’s 2016-18 theme is “It Takes a Family.” Event organizers say they wanted to have a community dinner rather than its familiar torch lighting ceremony because it better symbolizes the organization’s goal of helping those in need in Metro Detroit.

More than 400 people registered for the event, and guests sat at a 400-foot dinner table.

For information on the campaign or to donate to the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, go to liveunitedsem.org.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

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Twitter: @MikeWayland