United Way Campaign reflects upon 60 years of helping

Nicole Johnson sings a song to the tune of “Seasons of Love” Wednesday, Sept. 21, to encourage those in attendance at the United Way kickoff luncheon to give generously during the 2016 fund-raising campaign. About 125 people attended the event, held at Huntington Sheet Metal. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.
Nicole Johnson sings a song to the tune of “Seasons of Love” Wednesday, Sept. 21, to encourage those in attendance at the United Way kickoff luncheon to give generously during the 2016 fund-raising campaign. About 125 people attended the event, held at Huntington Sheet Metal. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

The 2016 United Way Campaign got off to a good start Wednesday, Sept. 21, as campaign organizers rallied the crowd to reach a goal of $606,060 in donations over the next year and increase the number of donors to 2,660.

Already the United Way has raised $10,000, thanks to its Pacesetter partners, which held fund-raising events early on to bring momentum to the campaign. They were recognized with plaques, a standing ovation and cheers by those attending the lunchtime rally at Huntington Sheet Metal.

Pacesetter organizations are Andrews Elementary School, Bippus State Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Flint Springs Elementary School, Huntington North High School, Huntington Sheet Metal, Johnson Junction, Lincoln Elementary School, Miami Tool and Die, Northwest Elementary School, Otis R. Bowen Center, Our Sunday Visitor and Teachers Credit Union.

The Pacesetters held a multitude of events to raise money, including cookbook sales, raffles, bake sales, jeans Fridays, dress-up days, root beer float sales, a painting class and special lunch events to fulfill their commitments to United Way.

Six honorary campaign co-chairs — Nicole Johnson, Ann McPherren, Jeremy Nix, Ed Vessels, Kyle Hamilton and Kathy Branham, all of whom have chaired United Way campaigns in the past — spoke about the organization’s mission of funding impact programs that promote education, financial stability and health and wellness.

McPherren talked about the video that was shown during the luncheon, illustrating how United Way impacts people in the community.

“If you’re like me, I think we’re always willing and happy to support the United Way,” she said. “But when we see these stories come to life, it just makes the calling for us to do the right thing and help our neighbors even more important to us.”

Nix said United Way’s impact is illustrated in real, life-changing ways by the organizations that United Way supports.

“Seven hundred forty-eight tutoring hours  were provided to adults to increase literacy and further careers; 1,400 nights were slept in safe locations for individuals who needed a place to stay; and $350,000 was saved in tax preparation fees by people in our community during tax season,” Nix said. “These are just a few of the annual statistics recorded by our funding partners.”

Vessels offered some advice to businesses and organizations as they collect donations from employees during the campaign.

“When you run a good campaign you always get good results,” he said. “If you have fun, and if you have food, you’re going to raise funds. Take that with you when you go out to define your campaign.”

The Huntington County United Way celebrates its 60th year in 2016, with the fund-raising goal reflecting the number 60 in its targeted goal. Johnson topped off the luncheon by singing a re-worded version of “Seasons of Love” from the Musical “Rent” called “Six Hundred Six Thousand Sixty Dollars” to drive home the amount sought this year from donors.

Campaign events and fund-raising results will be listed in more detail on the United Way of Huntington County’s website at www.huntingtonunited way.org. Those interested in following the events of United Way of Huntington County’s 60th year can stay updated by liking the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook. com/unitedwayhc.