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Charity drive volunteers make a difference
October 26, 1998

AIDS victims. Homeless veterans. Hungry kids. "There are so many people out there who need help, sometimes its hard to know where to start," says Dennis Dion, coordinator of this year's UConn State Employees Charitable Campaign..

During the month of October, Dion is pearheading the efforts of UConn employees, who have answered the challenge by contributing their time and money to the State Employees Charitable Campaign. The campaign benefits more than 800 charities.

Wanda Joy, administrative assistant at the School of Pharmacy, has organized the contribution efforts of the School of Pharmacy for the past five years..

"I put together the information packets and keep people updated on the status of the campaign," she says. Helping with the campaign is "very satisfying," she says. "God put us here to help each other, and this is a great way to reach out to those in need."

Kevin Fitzgerald, a hall director in Hilltop for the Department of Residential Life and a newcomer to UConn, is a first-time volunteer for the campaign..

"The campaign not only raises money for wonderful charities, but it also increases people's awareness of those organizations and the positive role they play in the community," he says.

Those who wish to donate to the campaign can give a lump sum, or contribute through payroll deductions. It's easy to give a little out of each paycheck, and most people like having the option of designating the charity where they want their money to go, says Gayl Osuba, a volunteer from the chancellor's office.

"These charities benefit so many groups and people, if you haven't been helped by one of them, someone you love probably has," Osuba says..

This year, UConn aims to raise $100,000 for the charities. As the campaign rolled into its third week, UConn was about half way to meeting its goal.

Connie Olson, a campaign volunteer in the facilities management department, says the campaign also helps bring the campus community together..

Last year at the 50s luncheon sock hop in the Student Union, for example, there were so many people the line wrapped around the stairs, Olson recalls.

The 50s gala luncheon is one event in a series of programs whose proceeds benefit the campaign. This year, nearly 200 people turned out for cheddar cheeseburgers, root beer floats and onion rings.

The closing event of the campaign will be a fall fest and bake sale on Thursday, October 29, on the Student Union patio from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m..

Prizes including tickets to the men's and women's basketball games, a free university parking space and tickets to a Jorgensen Auditorium event will be raffled during the event.

Jennifer Ridder