Saturday, September 9, 2023

Schuylkill United Way Launches 2024 Campaign with High Hopes

The Schuylkill United Way officially kicked off their 2024 Campaign with a Kickoff Breakfast held on Friday, September 8th, at St. Nicholas Banquet Hall in Minersville. 

Despite the economic challenges, the Schuylkill United Way has set a lofty fundraising goal of $1,175,000, driven by their motto: "We spread H.O.P.E. by Helping Other People Every day."

The campaign started with a bang, with $364,869, or 31% of their goal, already secured. The event unveiled SUW's newest program, The Nurse's Pantry, through a campaign video featuring school nurses from the Tamaqua Area School District. The program has made a significant impact on students and families, allowing school nurses to build relationships with students and connect them to SUW Partner Agencies for additional resources.

The Nurse's Pantry, launched for the 2020-21 school year, provides school nurses with various essential items to support students' health, focus, and attendance. It is available in every Schuylkill County school district, spanning elementary, middle, and high schools. Tamaqua Area Superintendent, Raymond Kinder, shared stories of how the Nurse's Pantry has positively affected students' lives.

Michele Mickonis, SUW Board President and Hydro employee, served as the emcee for the event, while Lieutenants Derek and Betty Ellen Barrett from the Salvation Army Pottsville Corp, an SUW Partner Agency, gave the Invocation and Benediction. Lt. Betty Ellen Barrett emphasized the collaboration between SUW and its 15 Partner Agencies, commending SUW for its commitment to the community.

CEO/Scouting Executive Davis Fox highlighted the annual SUW Captain Jason B. Jones Memorial Day of Caring, which takes place every second Friday of May. Over 100 volunteers prepared the Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation for 1,000+ campers this summer, with more than 600 volunteers participating at 40 locations countywide. Additionally, schools, nursing homes, and libraries collected over 2,400 letters for Operation Gratitude.

In June, the North Schuylkill High School football team won the SUW High School Football Challenge, an event aimed at involving youth in community service. Dr. Andy Smarkanic, SUW Board Member and Event Coordinator for the Challenge, noted the event's remarkable growth and the positive impact it has had on the community.

Doug Allen, Executive Director of the Big Impact Group of Schuylkill County (B.I.G.S.), discussed the impact of SUW's "Stuff the Bus" initiative on the 170 kids in their program. Allen emphasized that the initiative's support with new backpacks and school supplies allows many families to allocate their resources to other necessities. This year, a record-breaking 2,200 backpacks were distributed.

Other speakers included Pacesetter Club Chair Patrick Kane, who announced that 118 Pacesetters had already contributed $171,442 towards the 2024 Campaign. Pacesetters pledge $500 or more for the year, with the John E. Morgan Foundation matching new Pacesetter donations or increased amounts.

Mark Mikita, SUW 2024 Assistant Campaign Chair and Special Gifts Chair, highlighted the $113,455 already raised in the special gifts category. He introduced the campaign video and Raymond Kinder.

SUW Executive Director Kelly Malone urged attendees to submit their pledge cards and prize stubs to the SUW office by noon on Thursday, November 9th, to be eligible for campaign prizes, including a 2023 Ford Escape valued at $28,000. The winners will be drawn in real-time at the SUW Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, November 10, 2023, at 8:30 a.m., also held at St. Nicholas Banquet Hall in Minersville.