Kent State kicks off its United Way campaign

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Participants eat breakfast during United Way of Portage County’s annual kickoff breakfast yesterday morning at the Student Center. The breakfast was meant to bring awareness to the organization. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State’s fundraising campaign for United Way of Portage County begins this week, and all university employees will receive pledge cards through campus mail.

Coordinators of the campaign met yesterday for a breakfast orientation in the Student Center. Coordinators are representatives from various units who raise funds and awareness within their departments.

Steve Kleiber, president and CEO of United Way of Portage County, said students have tended not to get involved in the fundraising campaign in the past.

This year, however, a new student chapter of United Way will be raising awareness among students.

Christopher Hook, freshman international relations and French major, is president of the Kent State chapter of United Way. He said the group hopes to raise a dollar for every student on campus and has asked local restaurants to donate 10 percent of their profits during a given week.

The group meets next week and every other Thursday in Room 110A of White Hall.

Kleiber said 10 percent of the organization’s money raised in Portage comes from Kent State, the county’s largest employer.

“Kent State’s campaign is the largest in the community,” he said.

United Way of Portage County’s goal this year is to raise $120,000, which, Kleiber said, will be an increase from last year’s $100,000. He said the organization cannot continue to raise the same amount

of money every year because the community’s needs increase.

“We need support from places that have been consistent over the years,” he said.

United Way of Portage County raises money within the community and distributes it to 39 local health and human services organizations, such as Townhall II and the Miller Community House.

Kathryn Trzeciak, a member of United Way’s board of trustees, spoke at the breakfast.

She said when her house burned down a couple years ago, the Red Cross, an organization funded by United Way, provided food, shelter and clothing.

“I considered myself just like all of us – a regular person,” she said. “I never thought I would need an agency.”

James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information, is this year’s Kent State campaign chair. He said one misconception about United Way is that donations go to the national office, but in reality, 99 percent of the money goes to the local chapter.

Unfortunately, he said only 12 to 14 percent of Kent State employees donate to the campaign.

“There really is no reason not to give to United Way, short of, ‘I have no excess money,'” Gaudino said.

Gaudino said the university’s fundraising campaign for United Way raises money mainly through direct contributions, often in the form of payroll deductions.

Also, “change to make a change” buckets to collect donations will be placed in every department. Coordinators will also sell tickets for a 50/50 raffle and student volunteers collect money at athletic events to benefit United Way.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected]