MANSFIELD - The United Way of Richland County announced its $1.4 million campaign kickoff for 2021 Tuesday afternoon in the Renaissance Theatre parking lot.
Campaign chairman Rick Taylor said 10 Pacesetter companies and Pillar donors have already raised $611,000 or 43% of the new campaign goal. The 2020-21 Campaign is also being called the Centennial Campaign as this year marks the 100th anniversary of United Way's predecessor, the Community Chest of Mansfield.
Pacesetter companies this year and their goals are: United Way and all its UW agencies, $27,330, and 10 local companies: Baker's Collison Repair, $12,500; Gorman-Rupp, $60,000; J&B Acoustical, $14,000; Mechanics Bank, $70,000; Milliron Industries, $33,000; OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospitals Leadership, $15,000; Park National Bank, $44,600; RFME Insurance, $7,260; Spherion Staffing of Mid-Ohio, $11,000, and Therm-O-Disc, $107,500.
Rick Taylor, co-CEO of Nannogate North America, and the owner of Hudson & Essex restaurant, challenged the community to raise $1.5 million for local agencies.
Taylor recognized Top 25 companies for raising almost $812,000 in the last campaign. These companies were never recognized publicly when COVID-19 hit and the annual dinner that was to be held in March 2020 was canceled. Those are: ArceloraMittal Shelby Employees Federated Fund, the Ontario Schools, the City of Mansfield employees, Spherion Staffing Mid Ohio, Mansfield City Schools, Catalyst Life Services, Baker's Collision Repair, J& B Acoustical, the Warren Rupp Company, Milliron Auto Parts, CenturyLink, Midwest Automotive Trucking, United Parcel Service, Nannogate North America, Sky Box Packaging, Milliron Industries, Richland County Employees, Newman Technology, OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospitals, AK Steel, Taylor Metal Products, Park National Bank, Gorman Rupp Co., Mechanics Bank and Therm-O-Disc.
Kristie Massa of Park National, who heads the Power of the Purse event, said the event, which was strictly online, raised over $32,000. She said the 2021 event and auction will be "fingers crossed" held June 3 in person.
Ontario Superintendent Lisa Carmichael announced the Gus the Gopher stuffed animal friendly competition among local school districts for the Gopher award returning to Mansfield City Schools for an increase of more than $5,000, the biggest increase of all the school districts in last campaign. They would've been recognized in March had it not been for the coronavirus and social distancing.
Stan Jefferson, Mansfield City Schools' superintendent, accepted the gopher and said a community can never pay back but can always pay forward in giving to the Richland County community.
Dan Varn, executive director of United Way of Richland County, thanked everyone who supported the community in one way or another -— including companies and individuals.
He said he wanted everyone to be together, thus the parking lot gathering on Tuesday during which guests sat in their vehicles and listened to the press conference on the radio.
"We know this is going to be a challenging year but we know we can do it," Varn said. "And we're excited to do it and I think $1.5 million is absolutely possible and we're going to race and chase toward it."
United Way of Richland County reached its goal for the third year in a row.
The press conference also included a special "Cinderella" performance by the Renaissance Performing Arts with Miss Ohio Caroline Grace Williams and Ryan Shreve.