12/04/09 — United Way extends county campaign

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United Way extends county campaign

By Laura Collins
Published in News on December 4, 2009 1:46 PM

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Heidi Swisher, right, gasps as she realizes her key fits the lock on the Volkswagen Beetle that was the grand prize in the United Way Fair Share Contest on Thursday evening at Frema Motors. The car was donated by the dealership. Ms. Swisher, an employee of Southco Distributing Co., is seen with Frankie Tillman Korschun of Frema Motors.


That was all it took for Heidi Swisher to realize she had won a new car.

"All I heard was the click and I thought, 'Oh my God,'" she said shortly after discovering she had the winning key that unlocked the door.

Ms. Swisher, 19, an employee of Southco Distributing, was the winner of a black Volkswagen Beetle donated by Frema Motors to the United Way of Wayne County. The opportunity to win the car was the top prize for people who decided to donate an hour's pay every month for a year to become United Way Fair Share investors. Although she was excited about winning, Ms. Swisher said she didn't sign up for Fair Share to win the car.

"I like to help charity whenever I can," she said. "Whenever I have the opportunity, I do it."

John Harris, Frema Motors compliance manager, said donating the car to the United Way was a way for the dealership to impact the entire county.

"Every year, Frema usually takes one event and gives back to the community. This year with United Way we felt that we could help all over the county and encourage people to give some help back to the community," he said.

Giving back is a long-standing tradition at Frema Motors, he added.

"This business was started in January of 1964. The reason our business has been good when everyone else's has been down is the fact that we participate in the community. We give back to the community and we appreciate the business."

Jo Ann Tillman, Frema Motors vice president, said showing the dealership's appreciation for the community is "what they're all about."

"The community supports us, therefore we support the community," she said. "The United Way meets the needs of a lot in the community and it touches all areas."

About 80 people, including 20 finalists in the car giveaway, attended Thursday night's United Way campaign party at Frema Motors. At the event, campaign chair Brian Taylor reported the 2009 Community Campaign had raised only 78 percent of its $1.4 million goal. To date, the campaign has raised $1,084,918.

"Volunteers met obstacles going into various companies because of the economy and employees being laid off," Taylor said. "The work force was different than previous years, and it affected the campaign and corporate gifts have been adjusted some because of the economy. All that affects the total."

This year's campaign kicked off Aug. 11 at the annual Taste of Wayne County event and was intended to end Dec. 3. However, since the campaign goal has not been reached, Taylor said it will continue through the end of the year.

He encouraged those who have not yet given to the campaign to consider a donation to the United Way. There are plenty of people in the community who need the help United Way-sponsored agencies provide.

"The key to remember is that even with the times that they are, in reference to the economy, it's those times that the need of the community is greater than ever," Taylor said. "People in the community need the help of these agencies now more than ever, and the only way we can help these agencies is through gifts to United Way."

The 2009 campaign goal was slightly less than the 2008 campaign goal of $1.42 million. By this time last year, the organization had raised about 85 percent of its goal with $1.36 million.