Signing up to help out

The rallying cry ‘now more than ever’ has now been answered.

Despite the recent downturn in the local economy, Northern Kentucky University employees and students contributed more than $45,000 to community agencies throughout the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region as part of the 2009 Combined Campaign, an annual fundraising drive coordinated by the university.

Contributors were given the option of donating the funds to two different organizations that disperse money to nearly 200 local charities: Community Shares and the United Way.

The United Way portion of the campaign exceeded its goal by $3,836.96, raising nearly $36,000 that will go directly back into the community. It also saw about a $6,000 increase over last year, according to Leshia Lyman, Northern Kentucky director for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

A goal was never established for the Community Shares portion of the campaign, but NKU raised $11,002.86 for those agencies; however, in past years, NKU has raised between $15,000 and $25,000, according to Mary Beth King, executive director for Community Shares.

“It was a great campaign and I was absolutely pleased with the effort,” said Kim Luse, executive assistant to the president for special projects, who helped to coordinate the campaign.

Fundraising was not the only goal of the campaign this year. According to the event’s coordinators, it was also aimed to seek involvement of 100 percent of the NKU community. In order to reach out to more of the community, including students, there were several events held over a one-week period including a $2 lunch, a balloon gift service, and raffles. The campaign raised about $3,500 in result of these efforts.

Luse said there is no way to know how many people contributed a dollar here or there for the campaign or how many became aware of the agencies and their good work through promotions like the ‘sea of balloons;’ but, she said she was pleased with student involvement in the campaign.

Some students even came to the rescue of the balloon gift campaign as interest grew throughout the day. They volunteered to fill and tie balloons.

“We had an awful lot of participation,” said Luse, adding that this campaign was more inclusive of the entire campus than the previous five years. Although the 2009 campaign has officially come to an end, ideas are already flowing for the 2010 campaign.

In the meantime, Luse is working on more ways to recognize current service efforts by employees and students and develop more, particularly in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. She said the university is working on sharing information with students on how to get involved through e-mail alerts and information tables. There’s also another option, and it’s the easiest option too — she said students can text “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross through their cellular phone bill.

Story by Jesse Call