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United Way of Ashland County's executive director accepts an award from the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce in March 2021. 

ASHLAND -- The United Way of Ashland County announced Thursday that it exceeded its annual campaign goal, despite its untraditional fundraising strategy. 

The Ashland nonprofit raised $861,000 during its 2021 campaign, surpassing the goal of $850,000 by 102 percent. 

"This year was difficult, challenging and unlike any other most of us have ever seen, but the simple truth is that we care about and for one another," executive director Stacy Schiemann said. "Due to the hard work and commitment of this community working together to achieve one goal, collectively we will all be better for it."

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit pivoted most of its campaign activities to a virtual platform. Only the annual Kay Conrad Day of Caring was able to continue in-person, as volunteer teams worked in socially distanced groups to help 80 Ashland area homes with outdoor work. 

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Tonya Petry of Appleseed Community Mental Health Center empties a potted plant for an Ashland resident during the United Way's annual Day of Caring. 

The campaign began in fall 2020 with a virtual campaign kick-off and continued with zoom employee meetings and speaking events. Staff dropped off campaign packets to business and organizations for donations, and the organization's annual Holiday Happenings auction in December was held over social media channels.

"The common theme remained; we all work together to reach our annual goal," Schiemann said. "Fully funding the campaign allows United Way of Ashland County to support its partner agencies selected programs and services in 2021, and this year more than ever it was vital that we reached our goal to allow United Way of Ashland County to fund our 14 partner agencies and 23 programs that meet the financial stability, education and health needs of our communities."

The United Way's partner agencies include: ACCADA, ACCESS, American Red Cross, Appleseed Community Mental Health, Ashland County Cancer, Association, Ashland County Council on Aging, Ashland Parenting Plus, Ashland Christian Health Center, Ashland YMCA, Associated Charities, Hospice of North Central Ohio, Kidney Foundation, Olive Tree Care and Salvation Army Kroc Center. 

This year the campaign was led by five companies: Centerra CO-OP $63,086 (57 donors), PCA Packaging Corporation of America $62,464 (132 donors), Ashland University $32,301 (232 donors), UH Samaritan Medical Center $26,637(125 donors) and Chandler Systems Inc., $25,150 (41 donors). 

United Way received two major donations in March 2021, which brought the campaign past its goal this year. 

Trinity Lutheran Church gave a significant gift, meeting a challenge by an anonymous donor to reach at least $800,000 by March 1, 2021. The donation from the church triggered the $50,000 challenge donation, allowing United Way of Ashland County to exceed its goal.  

“For almost 190 years Trinity Lutheran Church has been blessed to be a part of the community of Ashland, and it has been our great joy in that time to share with Ashland the blessings that God has poured out upon us. Trinity is grateful to have been able to support The United Way in funding the needs of the community," Pastor Kevin McLain said. "As a community church and a community partner we are glad to partner with The United Way, and grateful for all they do to bless and support Ashland.”

According to a press release, the anonymous donor was also pleased to see the challenge was met.

Schiemann thanked everyone who donated to the campaign this year. 

"This is truly why United Way of Ashland County exists, to bring together people of from all walks of life in our county to participate to make one impact for the greater good.  We are thankful for each donation that is made, and each makes a huge impact on our community," Schiemann said. 

She also thanked the United Way campaign leadership team: Aaron and Aubrey Bates, Todd and Krissy Geren, Al Holdren, Dan Lawson, Angela Ringler, Joe and Brittaney Reep, Jerry Strausbaugh, Chris and Michelle Vanderzyden. 

"They all are one hundred percent community minded, committed to the cause and are a source of constant humor, enthusiasm, ideas and insight. Thank you all for your hard work," she said.

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