Oshkosh Area United Way recently announced a 2018 fundraising total of over $1.3 million, the most ever collected in support of almost 40 local programs. Campaign Co-Chairs Paul and Peg Larson shared this news at OAUW’s Community Celebration, which attracted more than 150 people to Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center on Feb. 28, 2019.

The Larsons challenged the community to raise money in order to fund unmet local needs related to mental health, steps to a living wage, and early childhood learning.

“Together, we’ve been able to make a difference to the thousands of people who rely on United Way services each year,” said Paul Larson. “This has been an extremely rewarding experience — one that my wife and I are extremely humbled by and grateful for.”

“We are grateful to all of those in the community who stepped up to support the vital community programs funded by the United Way.” Said Peg Larson.

The funds raised during the campaign will support local programs in 2019, as determined by an allocations committee that reviews and interviews organizations before allotting funds. The allocations committee is comprised of local community members.

During the event, the Larsons, alongside Oshkosh Area United Way President & CEO, Mary Ann L. Dilling, former OAUW Board Chair, Al Hartman, and now current OAUW Board Chair, Michael Rust, presented several awards to outstanding community champions.

Bill Wyman of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation was honored as a top performing campaign at an organization with less than 150 employees. The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation has garnered 100% employee participation for the last two years. Also nominated in this category were Mei Bloechl and team (Bank First N.A.), Dale Glen (CliftonLarsonAllen LLC), Janet Budd and Kim Cihlar (Powergrid Solutions), and Melissa Moua (SNC Manufacturing Co., Inc.)

John and Tim Bergstrom of Bergstrom Automotive were honored as the top performing campaign champions at an organization with 151-499 employees. Bergstrom Automotive increased their overall Oshkosh campaign by over 16%. They have also helped Oshkosh Area United Way increase participation by graciously sponsoring a sweepstakes car every year since the 2013 campaign. Also nominated in this category were Karen Kryzaniak (Experimental Aircraft Association), Julie Hoyt (Hoffmaster Group), Casey Hintz and Dave Richter (Silver Star Brands), and Joe Perz (UPS).

Clint Herrick and Jodie Larsen of Oshkosh Corporation was honored as a top performer at an organization with 500 or more employees. Oshkosh Corporation ran an engaging and informative campaign which provided significant increases in employee giving. Their strengthened employee and corporate giving yielded not only the most in fundraising for Oshkosh Area United Way but also a whopping increase of 43%. Also nominated in this category were Carol Bredesen and Kim Wetzel (Bemis Company, Inc.), Al Wenig and the OASD team (Oshkosh Area School District), James Chitwood, Alex Hummel and Mandy Potts (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Staff and Retirees), and Kay Guyant, Shannon Losinske, Robin Patzlaff, Renea Paulick, and Emma Schroeder (U.S. Bank Oshkosh).

Kendall Steinhoff, Marketing Manager, represented Rhyme, the event sponsor. She shared the honor with Mary Ann L. Dilling of presenting the 20 Years of Service Award to Anne Hauch of Oshkosh Area United Way.

“Countless people owe her their thanks and we here at Oshkosh Area United Way owe her even more,” Said Dilling.

The Sue Panek Community Impact Award honors individuals or groups who make a real difference in the Oshkosh area. This year’s award was presented to Lori Fields and Ruth Mauritz for their outstanding work with the Oshkosh Community Back to School Fair. The Oshkosh Community Back to School Fair provides 1,000 low-income Oshkosh and Winneconne students with backpacks, school supplies, new clothing, and hygiene items needed in order for them to start the year prepared to achieve academic success. This event also hosts a Resource Fair to give students and their families an opportunity to learn about the community resources available to them.

John and Tim Bergstrom had the honor of giving away the 2018 Ford EcoSport sweepstakes car, which they generously sponsored. Runner up prizes were kindly sponsored by Jet Stream Car Wash. Five finalists were randomly selected from the list of qualifiers. To qualify, anyone can make a new, undesignated gift of $52 ($1.00 per week), or a previous year donor can give an undesignated minimum gift of $52 with an increase of at least $1 from the previous year. The finalists were Laura Tlachac (Evergreen Retirement Community), Kevin Harvot (SNC Manufacturing Co.), Susan Garcia Franz (Winnebago County Health Department), Christine Dudzinski (Oshkosh Corporation), and Theresa Books (Oshkosh Public Museum). Each finalist drew a number and Laura Tlachac (Evergreen Retirement Community) was our grand prize winner.

Guests were invited to stay to enjoy the food and bar. And the program closed.

Oshkosh Area United Way would like to thank Rhyme, Bergstrom Automotive, Oshkosh Trophy, Jet Stream Car Wash, and Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center for their loyal support.

Also, thank you to everyone who donated. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity.