The United Way of Ellis County is looking for superheroes who can give a little bit more.
The United Way kicked off its annual fundraiser Friday at the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce monthly membership luncheon and Saturday with a community event in Frontier Park.
In each of the last two years, the campaign raised $415,000, falling short of the organization’s goal of $490,000 in 2015 and $450,000 in 2016.
With that in mind, campaign chair Nancy Jeter asked those at the chamber event to give just a bit more to reach the $450,000 goal for the 2017 “Heroes in Action” campaign.
Jeter retired last year as director of Big Brothers Big Sister of Ellis County, one of the 13 partner agencies with United Way of Ellis County.
“I want to ask something of you. I want to ask that whatever you gave last year, you increase it by only 10 percent. Just 10 percent,” she said.
“If we all gave 10 percent more, we could do it.”
Sherry Dryden, United Way executive director, announced at the chamber event the campaign’s June kickoff with pacesetter companies has driven the campaign to 24 percent of its goal.
The public campaign, which will run through January, will include dine-in days at area restaurants, with a social media contest.
On the dine-in days, the restaurant will have table tents with various superhero bodies on them. By holding the cards in front of their friends, diners can take a picture that looks like the person has the superhero body. Posting the photo to social media with #HeroesInAction or tagging United Way of Ellis County will enter it into a drawing for a $50 Chamber Cheque at the end of the campaign.
“We just want to blow up social media, increase awareness of the restaurant we’re at, of course, and the United Way,” Dryden said.
Restaurants are lined up for dine-in days every week through October, Dryden said.
At Friday’s chamber lunch, Dryden also spoke briefly about the results of a series of town hall meetings and an online survey the United Way conducted earlier in the year. The purpose was to help identify areas the community would like to see improvements in.
In education, survey respondents indicated after-school care, early care for infants, parenting education and early childhood education were areas of concern.
In health, access to health care, mental health and substance abuse and dental clinics accepting Medicaid were high areas of concern.
In the area of income, the survey showed affordable housing, more full-time jobs and child care costs were a concern.