How often are you watching TV and that commercial comes on that gets you every time? You know the one – it’s the abused puppies and kittens with the heart-wrenching images or maybe it’s the orphaned, malnourished children from a Third World Country. Regardless of what it is that tugs on your heartstrings, it is the desperation of those less fortunate that starts the tears rolling and causes you to want to make the world a better place.
We know the feeling here at Lycoming County United Way. We see, first-hand, the individuals who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health, homelessness, and disabilities – all challenges that create a domino effect around each corner for many living in Lycoming County. And while we may not be able to change the world, we work hard each day to make the daily lives of those struggling a little less difficult.
Campaigning for something you believe in involves many hands. Some may believe too many cooks to be a set-back, but United Way welcomes anyone who wishes to stir the pot into the kitchen.
As workplace campaigns begin to come to an end for this year’s annual United Way campaign, we are thankful for those businesses that afford us the opportunity to invite their employees to help us meet our mission to “mobilize resources to improve lives.” By allowing us to work with in-house campaign managers, local companies are adding fuel to the fire that burns for our less-fortunate friends and neighbors in Lycoming County.
For John Strimple, campaign manager at Springs Window Fashions, the reason to be involved is simple.
“I think, for us, it’s just that we believe in the message of United Way,” Strimple said. “We know that good things are happening because of the money that is raised each year and we want to support that.”
Springs has participated in the campaign for many years and, although things have changed for the business, the campaign has remained steady.
Strimple utilizes the online toolkit offered by Lycoming County United Way on its website. This allows him to run an electronic campaign and eliminate the need to distribute traditional paper materials. This works well for both office employees and the company’s home-based associates.
“Things changed in the way we could present information to employees,” he said. “We don’t have any in-house meetings anymore, so the online toolkit is very helpful. I use it to communicate with the team.”
In the interest of time, the campaign window is open for one week, but includes many opportunities to raise excitement for United Way. Perhaps the most popular incentive for anyone who provides a contribution is an entry into the chance to win a covered parking spot, just a few feet from the exit of the building. He also offers gift cards for local retailers to anyone who donates to the drive.
Julie Stellfox, in-house campaign manager for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, assisted by Beth Miller, also said the fun prizes included with her campaign helps add excitement to raising dollars.
“Many of the fundraisers we do kind of have built-in incentives in a way,” Stellfox said. “Give a donation and you get to dress down for a day or you get a sandwich or some soup for lunch. But some people seem to be more inclined to pay for these types of things when they know the money is going to a good cause, like the United Way. The chance to win a prize is just an added bonus and everyone who wins always is very excited.”
Some of the fundraisers planned by Stellfox include candy bar and sandwich sales, dress down days and a soup day, which was new this year.
“It went over really well,” she said. “Ten employees made a different soup and we sold it to other employees at lunchtime for $1 a bowl. We made $101 at our first sale and we plan to do this again next year.”
According to Stellfox, anyone who participates in the individual fundraisers throughout the campaign is entered to win different prizes like gift baskets and gift cards to area stores and restaurants. In addition, anyone who participates in two fundraising activities and gives a personal donation using the pledge form is entered to win a grand prize at the end of the campaign.
Abbie Allison also added some excitement to the campaign at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation this year. During the company’s annual Roadway Incident Management Meeting, she hosted a “Dunk the Foreman” event.
“With more than 180 contractors and Anadarko employees in attendance, we saw this as an excellent opportunity to involve our staff members and also the contractors we partner with on a daily basis to help raise funds to support our local community. We had more than a dozen participants willing to be dunked. With the corporate match, we were able to raise over $1,700 in less than an hour.”
The employees, Allison added, get very excited over the campaign each year and the participation rates reflect that without the need for additional incentives. The company also offers a corporate match for employee dollars raised.
“’Servant Leadership and ‘People and Passion” are two of Anadarko’s core values,” she said. “Our employees are more than willing to help our communities. The majority of our employees are Pennsylvania natives and some have relocated to central PA. The United Way provides a great way for us to support people who need it most and give back in a meaningful way.”
Although the Face Story series comes to a close with this final piece on workplace involvement, Lycoming County United Way still is working hard to raise the dollars that will help programs in the community serve those in need. To make a donation, visit www.development.lcuw.org/give, call 570-323-9448 or text key word “LIVEUNITED” to 50155.