The United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County kicked off its 99th annual campaign Wednesday with a breakfast at Carlisle Evangelical Free Church.
The goal for this year’s campaign is $1.45 million to support the greater Carlisle community.
Campaign co-chairs Tom Bream of S&T Bank and Greg Hall of Smith Elliott Kearns & Co. hosted the breakfast at which they recognized pacesetter companies that have already conducted their internal campaigns to give the overall campaign a boost at its start.
Those campaigns have raised $255,628, which puts the United Way at 18 percent of its goal. When early campaign pledges are added in, the total funds raised at the campaign’s start amount to $354,958.
Samantha Krepps, manager of public and community relations for Giant, the breakfast’s sponsor, asked the audience to imagine going without coffee, and to take that a step further to imagine going without breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Imagine if this continued for a few days. It would take a definite toll on your well-being,” she said.
Then, she asked the gathering to imagine a community in which every child has breakfast, goes to school with energy to learn, and graduating from school and college to repeat the cycle with his own children.
“If you can imagine, the possibilities are endless,” she said.
Krepps encouraged donors to donate what is most comfortable for them, adding that the donations may help a friend, neighbor or even yourself.
The recent hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida and other areas were also on the minds of the speakers. Krepps pointed to the service organizations, like the United Way, that have been active on the ground in the affected areas.
“They have been able to raise money, collect supplies, round up personnel and volunteers to help clean up those ravaged areas. For those of us who can’t be there, we can donate,” she said.
The worldwide United Way has set up a website at unitedway.org/recovery through which individuals may make donations. One hundred percent of those donations will go directly to the United Ways in the affected communities.
A panel discussion with leaders from companies that conduct strong employee giving campaigns talked about the importance of connecting to the community, why they invest in the United Way and the greatest concerns facing the community. Panelists were Nora Habig, administrative vice-president of M&T Bank, Ryan Heishman, president of Allen Distribution, and David Steitz, CEO of UMPC Pinnacle Carlisle.
The event also featured a performance — with assistance from the audience — of Carlisle High School’s improv troupe, Wingin’ It. Kate Sainer performed a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” for which Ron Lang had rewritten the lyrics to fit the United Way and the campaign’s theme.
As his students performed, Wingin’ It adviser Matt Fahnestock thanked the United Way partner agencies that work with children.
“It’s incredible how well prepared these kids come to us in a number of ways,” he said.