12/22/06 — AAR CEO fools employees, all for the benefit of charity

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AAR CEO fools employees, all for the benefit of charity

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 22, 2006 1:54 PM

AAR Chief Executive Officer Gregg Miner has been charged with aiding and abetting the United Way.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders was deadly serious as he arrested Miner without incident at 8:30 a.m. today in the air cargo system manufacturing company's shop floor.

The sheriff, Miner and a couple others who were sworn to secrecy were the only ones in on the secret -- the arrest wasn't real.

But the worried workers who watched their boss being taken away soon learned they had been had.

The arrest was all part of the company's fund-raising effort for the United Way's Bring It On campaign -- one of several small challenges on the agenda for businesses, schools and other community groups during the last couple of weeks of 2006.

The idea is to push the charitable organization to its 100 percent fundraising mark.

Miner, 45, was placed under $500 bond and held in custody at the United Way office wearing a black and white striped jail uniform.

Human Resource manager Leeann Loreman couldn't keep a straight face, but Miner said he saw a couple of worried looks.

Winders and Sgt. Sherwood Daly escorted Miner back into the shop and explained to the employees that the arrest was one of the Bring it On mini-challenges to raise money for the United Way.

The sheriff knows all about penalties in the name of a good cause. He served doughnuts at Krispy Kreme recently as his challenge -- when the community hit the 80 percent mark. In addition to Winders, Rep. Louis Pate packed pickles to mark 60 percent, and Goldsboro Mayor Al King honored his pledge to peddle coffee if the community reached 70 percent. Next on the list is Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron, who will read to a room full of children if the community hits 90 percent.

"I had to do donuts. He's going to depend on you to raise his bond money," said the sheriff. "You can pledge the money, and we'll give you a month, two months, to pay."

But he wanted to make sure the employees knew, it was all in fun.

"I might have acted hateful awhile ago, but remember, I still need your votes," he joked.

United Way Executive Director Steve Parr, who attended the "arrest," told the employees Miner would be enjoying some United Way hospitality until they came up with the cash.

But the sheriff added that Miner sentence was only suspended.

If the money wasn't raised by sundown, he said, Miner could "get to spend the night with Bubba."

As he was led out in handcuffs, Miner reminded his staff that after all, it is Christmas and a time to forgive and forget past transgressions.

"You give until it hurts," he begged.

On the way to Parr's "paddy wagon," Miner added, "We're going to see how much they like their new manager."

The AAR employees started raising the money right away.

In another Bring it On mini-challenge this week, the Rosewood Elementary School administrators and office staff donned hair nets and aprons to serve lunch to the children, who raised $1,100 in pennies.

Principal Jenny Whitfield and her assistant, Anne Kosuda, had challenged the children on Dec. 11 to raise $700 for United Way in a week and four days.

The children got an early start because of the Christmas holiday, but by Monday, the jars were full. School officials had to empty them and put out new jars.

And the children had filled the jars again by the end of the day Thursday.

Suzie Acree of the United Way said the second- and fourth-graders were in a competition to see who could raise the most money. No word yet on who was victorious, but the whole school enjoyed getting to see their "bosses" head to the cafeteria line.

"I think they're all winners over there," Mrs. Acree said.

And no matter what the outcome, she added, the fun was worth the final result -- helping the United Way get closer to its goal of improving the lives of more than 28,800 Wayne County residents.

Mrs. Acree added that many community groups are conducting mini-challenges -- all in the name of the United Way. And there is still time to register a challenge to help push the United Way closer to its goal of $1.44 million.

"All they have to do is call us and let us know what they are doing," she said. "We will take it from there and get the word out. If you do something on your own, take a picture and send us a note. We will be glad to share it with the community."

She added that the events so far have been about fun -- and community spirit.

"Big or small -- it doesn't matter. Every little bit helps," Mrs. Acree said.

The mini-challenges will continue through the end of the year, along with the rest of the fund-raising, which, hopefully, will culminate in a January parachute jump by Geoff Hulse when the campaign reaches 100 percent.

"Geoff is getting a little nervous the closer we get to our goal," Mrs. Acree said.

For more information, call the United Way 735-3591.