The region’s most successful fundraisers were honored Thursday night during a celebration gala held by United Way of Peel Region.

More than 450 community advocates, funders, corporate sponsors and dignitaries packed into the Mississauga Convention Centre to honor efforts to fight poverty within Brampton, Caledon and local neighbourhoods.

Key fundraisers and corporate sponsors were honored with a series of awards given by the community organization, which is going into the last month of its fundraising campaign and lauded the efforts of the community to support antipoverty efforts.

“We want to ensure that everyone gets the support they need, that they feel safe, and they belong in the community,” said board chair Tom Dyck, who spoke during the event The organization is grateful for the agencies and businesses that come together each year to affect change and help combat the social issues facing all three areas, said Dyck, whose sentiments were echoed by Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson.

“It’s more important than ever before that Peel’s voice is heard,” Thompson said.

The gala took place just a month before the merger between the Peel Region and Toronto & York United Way branches merge, in an effort to help drive regional efforts and raise more funds for local work.

Interim Peel Region CEO Anita Stellinga said that the region’s needs continue to be pressing, pointing to the increased need for social and community services in all three areas.

Although the merger will soon become official, it won’t mean that the agency’s focus will change, she said. “We will always have a United Way in Peel ... we’re on a mission to help everyone.

Winners at the ceremony were chosen by a campaign committee featuring representatives from Peel, Toronto and York Region The City of Brampton Cares team took home honors for team fundraising during the Longest Night Peel event, where eighteen teams spent one night sleeping in subzero temperatures in order to raise money and get a better perspective on how poor and homeless residents face the elements.

Cherish de la Cruz from Master Lock Canada, Judy Labelle & Sandy Viana- Tavares from the Region of Peel, and Kylie MacInnis & Matthew Schurmann from Kimberly-Clark Canada each took home an Employee Campaign Chair of the Year award, which recognizes individuals who display best practices and creative leadership.

Express Scripts Canada took home the Leading the Way Campaign Award, which is given to a workplace campaign that conducted an exemplary Leadership Giving campaigns.

Eaton Canada - Cooper Industries and CUPE branches at Peel District School Board both walked away with the Joint Union- Management Award, while the CIBC Dixie & Highway 7 branch took home the Bank Branch Campaign of the Year award for their local campaign.

Other awards included the Outstanding Agency Campaign Award being given to Indus Community Services and Polycultural Immigration & Community Services, while presenting sponsor Suncor Energy received the Outstanding Corporate Campaign award for their continuing efforts.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who spoke at the event, said that it’s important not to lose sight of the goal to help vulnerable residents and new immigrants, as they often need a lifeline to local communities.

“When we welcome the world to our doorstep, we have to help them succeed,: she said.