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United Way campaign reaches halfway mark

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Chad Stott recently jumped rope for an hour in front of his office at SIHO Insurance Services on Washington Street in Columbus.
Submitted photo Chad Stott recently jumped rope for an hour in front of his office at SIHO Insurance Services on Washington Street in Columbus.

The thermometer in front of the Bartholomew County Courthouse is slowly rising despite the cold temperatures, but then it measures generosity rather than heat.

The thermometer shows that the United Way is halfway to its $4 million campaign goal with two months remaining in the fund drive. But the rising red line symbolizes considerable warmth amid a still-chilly economy, according to Jan Harris, resource development director for United Way of Bartholomew County.

The campaign supports 29 local nonprofit agencies and programs such as mentoring projects, housing help, after-school assistance, youth leagues and senior health efforts.

“I’m certainly not complaining (about the total),” Harris said. “There’s still a lot of opportunity to raise more.”

Cummins Inc. has completed its United Way campaign for employees, though that exact figure has not been released, according to Harris. She said their leaders expect to announce a record total soon. Cummins has been the largest employee donor for years in a campaign that has led the state’s 62 United Ways in per-capita giving for nine years.

Last year’s record $3.7 million campaign averaged slightly more than $50 per county resident. This year’s campaign was launched Sept. 11.

Harris said she is especially happy that area companies with employee campaigns have sponsored creative ways to generate funds. SIHO Insurance Services, for instance, recently saw several of its employees decked out in “Live United” T-shirts take to the sidewalk in front of its Washington Street office during lunch hour for an event they called “Champions for Change.”

One employee, Chad Stott, jumped rope for an hour with sponsors kicking in donations at 10 cents per repetition. Passers-by even stopped and donated.

Two others hula-hooped for 60 minutes. Evan Umphress did 3,175 jumping jacks.

“My legs were pretty shaky afterward,” Umphress said. “But we wanted to give people (passing by) something to look at. And, well, you could kind of tell they were questioning what on earth we were doing.”

The efforts raised $1,150.

Steve Knott, human resources manager at Master Power Transmission, just watched his 70 of his 78 peers raise $29,505 in donations — an average of $421 per donor.

That’s a 70 percent jump over the company’s 2011 campaign, according to Knott. He said the fact that the company nearly closed in 2010 had an impact this year.

“We are grateful to still have good, traditional manufacturing jobs,” Knott said.

Maj. Todd Noblitt, a

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department officer, who was chairman of the county employee campaign that just recorded a 21 percent jump, said the same element unfolded with county workers.

“Times are tough for many of them,” Noblitt said. “But they understand that there are people in tougher situations than they are in. And I think they want to know that they’re still able to help others.”

Elsewhere, Columbus Regional Hospital is up more than $1,000 in employee giving, and Mount Healthy Elementary School reported a 20 percent rise over last year, according to Harris.

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