‘Little Things’ kickoff sets $1.98 million goal for United Way
From Staff Reports
About 250 United Way of Blount County donors and volunteers gathered Friday at the Airport Knoxville Hilton as the community services agency kicked off its annual campaign with a goal of raising $1.98 million.
The 59th annual kickoff breakfast was paid for by 37 local meeting sponsors and featured introductions by Ken Cooper, board chairman, and a rap video by newly named President and CEO Jennifer Wackerhagen and Sherri Gardner Howell, the 2013 campaign chair.
The theme from cabinet members who reported on early progress in this year’s campaign was that “Little Things” can be turned into big things for those in need.
“Sometimes we all feel like the world is so big, and our boats are so small,” said Gardner Howell. “But that feeling of helplessness at truly being able to bring change into the world disappears when we can line our boat up with hundreds of others.
“That is the concept behind ‘Little Things,’” she said. “When you put what you, one person, can do together with what your neighbor can do, what your friends can do, what your co-workers and company can do, the impact is anything but small. It’s huge.”
Four representatives of the Boys & Girls Club, Blount County Adult Education, The Gate and Legal Aid of East Tennessee spoke about how they, or their clients, have been helped by United Way, all while focusing on the little things.
“Before The Gate, I celebrated my birthday alone with my family,” said Shelli Vance. “Now that I’m at The Gate, I was able to celebrate my birthday at Texas Roadhouse with my six girlfriends.” The speakers reminded that little things, such as friendship in Vance’s case, are made possible daily through United Way. The agency notes that 1 in 3 people in Blount County are helped by the funds that are raised during each campaign.
“Putting aside less than $3 per day makes you a Leadership Giver at United Way,” said Gardner Howell. “We want those donations to all come together to put $1.98 million into caring for those in need in Blount County.”
Kevin Painter announced results for United Way’s fifth annual “Can-Paign Before the Campaign,” a food drive and competition among businesses in the Blount County area. The “Can”paign brought in a record-breaking 29,009 pounds of food for local food pantries that serve Blount County.
Thirty-seven companies participated this year, and winners were determined on a per capita rate based on the number of employees.
Organizations competed in their categories based upon the number of employees. Here are the divisions and winners:
• Peas (one to 24 employees): Blount Hearing and Speech, with 387 pounds of food, or 77.4 pounds per employee.
• Corn (25-49): Chroma Graphics, with 554 pounds of food, or 18.5 pounds per employee.
• Green Been (50-99): CBBC, with 1,900 pounds of food, or 26.8 pounds per employee.
• Peanut Butter (100-399): Asbury Place, with 6,946 pounds of food, or 30.9 pounds per employee.
• Tuna (400 and up): Accenture Hospitality Services, with 2,700 pounds, or 4.5 pounds per employee.
23 Percent Raised
Gardner Howell praised the campaign cabinet, noting that more than $453,000 has already been raised through Pacesetters, special events and other pledges.
Pacesetters are companies and organizations that agreed to start their United Way campaign a month early, giving the overall campaign a boost.
This year’s pacesetters include: Alcoa City Schools, Blount Memorial Hospital, Blount Partnership, Chroma Graphics, Citizens Bank of Blount County, First Tennessee Bank, Foothills Bank and Trust, Haven House, Impact Associates, Ingram, Overholt & Bean, LeConte Wealth Management, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Metro Knoxville Airport Authority, New Hope, Renasant Bank, Smith Funeral and Cremation Services, Target, United Way of Blount County and Walmart.
“Our 20 pacesetters raised more than $274,000, which really gets the momentum going for the remainder of the campaign,” Wackerhagen said. “We are very blessed to have businesses and leaders in our community that stand up to make change happen in Blount County.”
“We kicked off this morning, and we are at 23 percent of goal,” said Gardner Howell. “We have a ways to go, but I am confident the people of Blount County will join together to meet the needs of this community. There is nowhere like Blount County, and all the money raised through United Way stays right here. We are excited to get to work toward hitting our goal.”