As the season changes from summer to autumn, Tiffin-Seneca United Way begins its annual fundraising campaign to generate funds for the coming year. At noon Friday, section and division chairpersons are to have an organizational meeting at North Central Ohio Educational Service Center on West Market Street. Many plans and events already have been mapped out.
"I am proud to announce that Kelly Hohman and Eric Shook have stepped up to be our leaders this year," said Pat DeMonte, United Way director. "They are two dynamic people in our community, and I'm excited to work with them. They bring a lot of energy and compassion for the community."
Hohman is to serve as the 2012 chairwoman, assisted by Shook as vice chairman. DeMonte emphasized the campaign is volunteer-driven. Even though raising funds for community needs is a serious endeavor, the campaign leaders are trying to add an element of fun to the effort by choosing a super hero theme. Hohman said one of their goals is to "create a caring community" whose giving will continue into the future.
"You don't have to wear a T-shirt or a cape. You can be a 'super hero' in someone else's life, whether you give, volunteer or advocate," she said. "What you do today affects generations from now."
"Anybody can be a super hero, not just by donating money. There's a lot of ways to be a super hero," Shook added.
In addition to Hohman and Shook are four section chairpersons: Sara Risen, Simon Castellucio, Chris Lee and Dave Shelton. Split into several divisions, each section has its own monetary goal. The Super Hero Online Auction in August served as the United Way kick-off event. The 51 items donated by local businesses and individuals brought in a total of $4,369. Donations also are to be collected at the Super Hero "Fest-Of-All" Sept. 29 (see box).
Everyone can be a part of United Way family event
Super Hero "Fest-Of-All" is scheduled for noon-3 p.m. Sept. 29 at Tiffin University's new Heminger Center on Miami Street. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. The fee for adults is $1 or a non-perishable food item. "Super Hero" T-shirts and stickers are to be given to anyone who donates $10 or more. The festivities include inflatable attractions, face painting, sporting activities, children's games, music, 50/50 raffle and a live remote radio broadcast.
"The primary and associate agencies are going to have booths available. They can provide entertainment for the kids. We're going to have concessions with festival-type foods," said Kelly Hohman, 2012 United Way campaign chairman.
In addition to raising awareness about the campaign, the festival is intended to show children the value of service to the wider community. The United Way agencies make their services available to anyone with an emergency, such as a fire, sudden illness or unemployment. These crises can strike anyone at any time.
"I think a lot of people might have the misconception that you have to be at a certain income level to receive services, when in fact, if you need the services, they're available. No one knows when their needs are going to arise," Hohman said.
The Super Hero festival includes a costume contest at 1 p.m. Youth are invited to "come as the Super Hero you are with your own superpowers," or they can come as someone they respect and look up to. Adults and children can take the hero theme a step farther by nominating special people in their lives for awards.
"We'd like for people to nominate heroes in their lives, everyday heroes ... someone who has made a difference, someone that might not get recognized - the Clark Kents of the world," said United Way director, Pat DeMonte.
The hero awards are to be given in the following categories: community action, youth vision, health, education and income awareness. Applications can be obtained at the United Way office or online at www.tsunitedway.org.
The United Way campaign goal for 2012 is the same as it was a year ago - $500,000. DeMonte said the 2011 campaign ended with a respectable $491,000.
"We know the need is still out there. There's no sense in lowering it, because the needs don't get lowered," Hohman said.
In addition to First Call For Help, the United Way assists 22 agencies. DeMonte said people always are encouraged to "give where they live." On the pledge forms, donors can designate a specific agency to receive their personal contributions.
"I think it's important to let people know also, if they work outside of the area, they can ask that their United Way dollars from another county be sent back to Seneca County," Shook said.
Many companies ask their employees to set up a payroll deduction plan for the United Way. Others conduct in-house "rallies" for workers to turn in cash and pledges. Hohman said people whose workplaces do not participate in the campaign can make their contributions online with a credit card.
DeMonte said people who have retired or changed employment and still want to give can obtain a brochure and pledge form at the United Way office, 201 S. Washington St., or online at www.tsunitedway.org. Any company interested in having a United Way representative speak at their workplace should contact the United Way at (419) 448-4357.
"We would like to be able to talk to more businesses and their employees. It's not about giving huge amounts of money. If everybody gives a little, it will help." DeMonte said.
The campaign has its main push in October, when pledge cards go out. The cards are to be returned by November so the local United Way can decide how much money still is needed. Everything is to wrap up in March 2013. The 2012 campaign also is planning to recognize "loyal contributors" who have invested in the community for five consecutive years or more. A section of the brochure has been set aside for these long-time donors to submit.
Also in the works is the annual Day of Caring, set for Oct. 20. Volunteers are to gather at 8:15 a.m. at the Opportunity Center for registration and breakfast. Each year, Girl Scouts and more than 250 volunteers sign up to help with tasks such as collecting food for the Harvest For Hunger, cleaning up litter, yard work at the senior centers and projects for other charities.
For more information about Tiffin Seneca United Way, call or stop at the office, visit the website or see the agency's Facebook page.