United Way changes kickoff event to party, collection at Hessel Park

United Way changes kickoff event to party, collection at Hessel Park

CHAMPAIGN — United Way of Champaign County will kick off its 2013 fund-raising campaign Aug. 29 with a community party and collection drive at Champaign's Hessel Park.

The organization's board hasn't finalized its 2013 fund-raising goal yet, but will do that at its board meeting later this month, says United Way President and CEO Sue Grey.

"We are really looking forward to getting that final approval," she said Friday.

The United Way exceeded its $3.3 million goal for 2012, raising $3,486,000 by the time the campaign was finalized earlier this summer.

The Hessel Park kick-off, called "Pack the Park," will replace the annual "Stuff the Bus" collection drive, Grey said.

It will offer the community a collection drive combined with a party at the park, she said.

People can bring items needed by the United Way's member agencies to the pavilion on the north side of the park throughout the day.

The first 300 people to bring a donated item to the Pack the Park event will get a free hotdog, chips and beverage, Grey said. Food will be limited to those 300 meals, "unless somebody wants to donate more," she said.

The event will also include music and other festivities for the whole family, Grey said.

Items on the Pack the Park wish list include new copy paper, children's books, pens and pencils, flash drives, post-it notes, paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, bus tokens, Clorox wipes, dish soap, diapers, diaper wipes, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, travel-size shampoo, travel-size deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The United Way's 2013 campaign will be led by newly-selected co-chairs Mike Ross, director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and Emmie Fisher, a past United Way board chair who works with small businesses and nonprofits.

Grey said she is excited to work with the new co-chairs.

"They are great community members," she said. "They really care about what we do here at the United Way."

About 73,000 people in Champaign County received services from United Way programs in 2012, the agency says.

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