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United Way Campaign 2015

December 23, 2015
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United Way Campaign Raises More than $27,000

Once again, the WPI community collaborated to fund another successful United Way campaign, raising more than $27,000 by the Dec. 20 closing day.

This year’s campaign kicked off on Nov. 9 and different events kept the campaign fresh and fun all while maintaining a goal of raising money for the United Way of Central Massachusetts. The last casual Friday on Dec. 18 marked the final United Way fundraising event, and the campaign’s success was highlighted at the staff luncheon on the same day, where the final raffle drawings for a parking spot and lunch with President Leshin were drawn.

This year’s silent auction was a particular success, says campaign coordinator Melissa Luzzo, human resources generalist and HRIS analyst at WPI. Once again, the auction was held online, so everyone had two days to look at all the items and decide what to bid on. And while the bids brought in funds, the donated items were special. “People talk about this and wait for it every year,” says Luzzo. “There were lots that people donated that were handmade like hats, scarves, jewelry, and artwork.” In addition to handmade goods, donations for wine baskets, gym memberships, and restaurant gift cards offered something that would appeal to everyone.

And as the silent auction raises money, it also offers a community building spirit as people get to see items made by colleagues. “It’s an interesting piece of the auction to see what people are passionate about and what they enjoy doing as hobbies outside of work,” says Luzzo.

Liz Tomaszewski, associate director of sustainability and facilities systems manager, helps run the silent auction which also happens to be her favorite event. “We get a lot of engagement,” she says. “It’s amazing how much our community contributes to this cause.”

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes with the campaign. “The biggest challenge for doing that is finding the space for everything,” says Tomaszewski. “Doreen Manning’s office, where we collected all donations prior to the auction, was just loaded. And the last-minute efforts to get everything cataloged, photographed, and entered into the bidding website is huge.”

STUDENT BAKE-OFF WINNER

This year, a student captured the coveted top vote in the annual and much anticipated Bake-Off. Sophomore Kelsey Saucier’s chocolate peanut cupcakes won over tasters, several of whom were students. People were able to donate an amount, vote on their top choices, and have a chance to bring goodies home. In all, the Bake-Off alone raised $400, says Luzzo.

Planners scheduled a WPI’s Got Talent show, but canceled it as it didn’t garner as much interest as hoped. But Luzzo still thinks the community would enjoy it, possibly at a less busy time of year.

As the community comes together to help out others in need, the campaign is a nice reminder of the university’s connection to the surrounding region. “I think it’s meaningful to the community because we know that the funds are used to help those people in our own community who are in need,” says Tomaszewski. “The funds could be helping our own neighbors!”

Luzzo agrees. “I am always still surprised at how much we raise,” she says. “It’s great to see how everyone comes together. From bidding to donating to spreading the word, so many people help.”

– BY JULIA QUINN-SZCESUIL