United Way campaign, ‘Invest in Our Community,’ gets official start

Orion McCormack, donor development coordinator of United Way of Huntington County, shows the impact that United Way donations have made in the community during the 2019 Campaign Kickoff luncheon held Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Huntington First Church of the Nazarene. In December, United Way is also having a “Giving Tuesday” donation opportunity, a food drive to benefit local food banks.
Orion McCormack, donor development coordinator of United Way of Huntington County, shows the impact that United Way donations have made in the community during the 2019 Campaign Kickoff luncheon held Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Huntington First Church of the Nazarene. In December, United Way is also having a “Giving Tuesday” donation opportunity, a food drive to benefit local food banks. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

With the theme of “Invest in Our Community,” the 2019 United Way of Huntington County fund-raising campaign got off to its official start Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The campaign chairs, investment experts Jim Scheiber, Nicole Johnson and John Nelson of “Team Edward Jones,” encouraged those in attendance at the kickoff luncheon, held at Huntington First Church of the Nazarene, to give, knowing that the average return on their investment is $16 in Huntington County for every $1 spent. And, 98.6 percent of every dollar to stay in Huntington County with the remaining 1.4 percent going to pay United Way dues, which allows the agency to apply for grant money, Scheiber said.

Scheiber likened the return of a United Way investment to a more personal level.

“Think of a return for a child that furthers their education because of the mentoring, the tutoring, the encouragement that they received at the Boys & Girls Club. Or a teenager that got his life back on track because of the time that he spent at the Youth Services Bureau. The return on investment for those individuals is exponential.”

The goal of this year’s campaign is to raise $590,000. The United Way Pacesetter companies have already made a dent in that total, starting their campaigns early and coming up with innovative ways to attract donations.

This year’s Pacesetter companies are Andrews Elementary School, Ecolab, Edward Jones, First Federal Savings Bank, Heritage Pointe of Warren, Johnson Junction, Lake City Bank, Lincoln Elementary School, Otis R. Bowen Center, Our Sunday Visitor, Parkview Huntington Hospital and Teachers Credit Union.

Orion McCormack, the United Way donor development coordinator, says his goal is to raise donor donations by 3 percent this campaign. One way that United Way is encouraging extra donations this year is with a “Pie Contest,” a friendly competition between Scheiber, Johnson and Nelson, the three campaign chairs.

“At the thank you luncheon early next year, whoever has had the highest percent increase will be able to ‘pie’ the other two individuals in the face,” he declared. “It’s not just a whipped cream pie; it actually has to be a fruit pie.”

McCormack said United Way is also making it easier for businesses to encourage their employees to donate by texting to 41444 with the message “19UWHC company name.” The text will send the employer a text back with a link to where employees can go to make donations.

United Way is also holding a “Giving Tuesday” event this year on Dec. 3, by holding a food drive of non-perishable and non-expired food items that will be given to United Way funded partners, including Love In the Name of Christ, Salvation Army, Place of Grace, Huntington House and Blessings in a Backpack.

What makes donating to the United Way so crucial, says Executive Director Kyle Metzger, is that the agency doesn’t have enough capacity to help everyone in the county who needs help.

“This is a community with a lot of passion; this is a community that cares and this is a community that wants to motivate its employees,” he said. “The more that your folks can be engaged and care about this community – especially in this labor environment – the more that people are going to want to stick around.”

Some UW programs included the Kinder Kamp held this summer, that benefited 178 children entering kindergarten this school year. Another program started this school year, Walk Away, is for kids who might struggle with coping skills, or who are depressed or have anxiety. They walk together with a trusted adult, getting exercise as they work through their problems. These two programs brought in an additional $63,000 in funding to the community through grants.

Last year, the campaign raised $583,000 with United Way using those funds in three primary impact areas: education, health and wellness and financial stability. Funded partners and programs supported by the United Way of Huntington County are American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana; Blessings in a Backpack; Boy Scouts Anthony Wayne Council; Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County; Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana; Huntington County Council on Aging; Huntington House; Love In the Name of Christ; McKenzie’s Hope; Pathfinder Kids Kampus; Pathfinder Services Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; Place of Grace; Salvation Army; St. Peter’s First Community Church Homework Help; Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County; and YWCA of Northeast Indiana.