United Way to start campaign in Marietta

MARIETTA – When the annual football game between Marietta and Warren high schools kicks off Friday night, so will the United Way’s 2013 campaign.

The second annual United Way of Washington County Bowl will once again get the annual campaign started in an effort to generate excitement and educate the public about the organization.

“It really is local people trying to help local programs,” said Al Miller, a United Way of Washington County board member and organizer of the game.

Representatives of each of those 18 programs including EVE Inc., the Betsey Mills Club, the Marietta Family YMCA and Marietta Bantam League will march in a parade before the game to give spectators an idea of what money donated to the United Way supports and who is involved.

Activities include the Fan Appreciation donation contest and game ball raffle for everyone who donates $5 or more, a 50/50 drawing.

Last year’s Warrior-Tiger face-off was the venue for the inaugural United Way Bowl, with the host team, Warren, taking home trophies for winning the game itself and for its fans, who edged out Marietta’s by $1 in donations, collected by members of each school’s student council. The total money raised through the fan contest, a raffle of game balls and 50/50 proceeds donated by Warren was $1,975.

“We thought that it was a great beginning, and we thought since it went so well, we’d do it again,” said Karen Binkley, director of resources for the United Way.

Tiger football Coach Adam Eichorn said his players don’t need any extra motivation to play against the rival Warriors, but he hopes the significance of the evening stays with them after the game and season are over.

“(I hope) they realize how important it is for the community and to the programs that benefit from” the United Way, he said. “The big takeaway is for these kids to realize that there’s more to a sport than just their accomplishments.”

Miller said the United Way is still open to rotating the location and teams in the game, but since this is only the second year, they decided to keep everything pretty much the same.

The venue is new since it’s Marietta’s home game. Binkley noted the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival will be going on, which could result in more people stopping by (which they can do and leave a donation at the gate closest to the river without actually entering the game if they’d like). One addition, Binkley said, will be tables where people can sign up to volunteer and help out with the campaign.

The overall campaign goal this year is $237,000, down nearly $30,000 from last year. Binkley said the United Way has fallen short of its campaign goals for the last five years, resulting in supported organizations receiving less money than originally planned.

“We thought, ‘Let’s be more realistic about what we can earn'” when setting this year’s goal, she said.