United Way community campaign kicks off

Following the theme of this year’s United Way campaign, those who took to the stage were dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” Mike Downey as tin man, Greg Gaffke as the cowardly lion and this year’s chairman of the board, Gaye Suggett as the scarecrow, entered the room to applause and laughter as they skipped on the yellow brick road.

Following the theme of this year’s United Way campaign, those who took to the stage were dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” Mike Downey as tin man, Greg Gaffke as the cowardly lion and this year’s chairman of the board, Gaye Suggett as the scarecrow, entered the room to applause and laughter as they skipped on the yellow brick road. Photo by Julie Smith.

More than 300 people gathered at the Capitol Plaza Hotel on Thursday afternoon for the community campaign kickoff of the United Way 2014 fundraising campaign.

Several of the United Way’s pacesetters joined others at the event to watch United Way volunteer staff dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes snap jokes at each other, while being served turkey and avocado club sandwiches.

The costumes were for the 2014 campaign theme “There is no place like home.”

The event marked the end of the private pacesetter campaign and the beginning of the community’s participation in raising funds to match the efforts of the 29 businesses that make up the pacesetters. The businesses and government offices raised $848,146, United Way officials calculated. This is 48.5 percent of the total goal of $1.75 million, which is $50,000 more than the previous year’s goal.

“The $50,000 increase in the campaign target is a result of our agencies have to do more with less due to budget cuts,” said Andy Fechtel, campaign co-chair, in a press release.

Some notable contributors were Central Bank which raised $183,855, and Cargill with a $52,418 donation. Also, the municipal government of Jefferson City was able to donate $18,617 for its first year as a campaign pacesetter. The Jefferson City Medical Group raised $54,133, which is $20,000 more than it was able to raise last year.

“We believe, together with donors and organizations, that the United Way can improve lives and build a stronger community,” said Barb Prasad, campaign co-chair, in a press release.

Also, for those who have noticed the scarecrows around town, the United Way volunteer staff announced the winners of the scarecrow competition. The two overall winners were Huber and Associates and the Special Learning Center. The most creative scarecrow belonged to the Community Health Center, and the most traditional was Providence Bank. The funniest scarecrows were those of Modern Litho/Brown Printing and Osage Industries.

The United Way will continue the community celebrations with the Days of Caring today. More than 280 volunteers will mobilize to provide hands-on assistance to partner agencies in the city. Throughout the day, volunteers will be helping in classrooms, landscaping, cleaning, organizing, painting and baking cookies.

For more information on the community campaign or Days of Caring, contact the United Way office at 636-4100.

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