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).
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.