Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Barbara Hendel

United Way celebrates northwest Ohio's generosity

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    Bill Kitson, left, Sharon Speyer, and Trent Smith at the United Way of Northwest Ohio campaign celebration at Tango's.

    <The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Bill Kitson, left, Sharon Speyer, and Trent Smith at the United Way of Northwest Ohio campaign celebration at Tango's.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Holidays are a great time for giving.

Giant gold balloons shaped like numbers revealed this year's United Way of Greater Toledo campaign total, $13,409,320, during the celebration party last week at Tango's for volunteers and staff members. All smiles was Bill Kitson, president and chief executive officer.

Individual and corporate contributions added to the grand total. But making it all happen were those who helped with the campaign, such as campaign manager Sharon Speyer of Huntington National Bank and her crew of some 2,000 volunteers.

A special volunteer was Libbey Best, an attorney at Cooper & Walinski, LPA, who was the only actual loaned employee in this year's Loaned Executive program. Way back when, companies lent an employee to help with the United Way, but most now provide the dollars for a campaign employee.


Honorary chairmen Brad and Jodi Augustyniak attend the Heartwarming Party benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio.


Kevin Kill from Dana was the 2010 outstanding campaign manager for a workplace campaign. In addition to his real job, he spent countless hours campaigning for the cause. Thanks to Mr. Kill's work, the local Dana campaign increased by 60 percent this year -- a more than $60,000 jump. His efforts also affected the nationwide company campaign, which is expected to be more than $340,000 this year, according to the folks at United Way.

Jenny Vancil from O-I, last year's outstanding campaign manager, still runs a tight ship. The 2010 O-I campaign will top $700,000, according to the folks at United Way.

There's still chatter about the second annual Heartwarming Party last month at the Hilton Garden Inn for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio. More than 375 guests enjoyed music, fabulous food, and the entertainment of Dave Caruso and Piano Wars as emcee Sashem Brey of WTVG-TV, Channel 13 kept things rolling.

Touching the hearts of all were honorary chairmen Brad and Jodi Augustyniak, who shared their story of how the organization helped them. A live auction gave many folks a head start on holiday shopping. Included in the auction were works from the winners of a third-grade art contest for the Ronald McDonald House Charities: Powell Elementary in North Baltimore, Ohio, St. Joseph Elementary in Erie, and Delta Elementary in Delta. Thanks go to volunteer auctioneer Bill Perry, who helped raise more than $20,000.


Joe and Cari St. John react to the news that Cari holds the winning ticket for the grand prize at the Heartwarming Party at Hilton Garden Inn.


Also exciting was the House replica, which contained more than $4,000 worth of prizes. This year's winning key holder was Cari St. John, who generously donated a portion of her winnings back to the Ronald McDonald House.

The event raised more than $60,000.

Among the attendees were Ron and Linda Enser, Jon and Lisa Harris, Larry Ball, Jason and Camilla Chan, Tim and Laura Sloan, Karen and Labib Hajar, Greg and Rose Geswein, Jim and Mary Ann Kline, Darryl and Kathy Lycourt, Pierre Vauthy, Lori Ferguson, and John Schaeufele.

Now it's on to the holiday parties!

Barbara Hendel is The Blade's society editor.

Contact Barbara Hendel at

or 419-724-6124

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