Tiffin-Seneca United Way is to begin the 2013-2014 campaign "Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future" with the Lantern Launch Friday.
Tiffin-Seneca United Way Executive Director Pat DeMonte said Campaign Chair Eric Shook wanted to organize an event incorporating the theme for this year's campaign.
"It kind of evolved from lighting the way to our campaign kick-off to do something spectacular," she said. "It will get people's attention."
The event, sponsored by Tiffin Aire, is to take place on the South Washington Street bridge. The "Light Up the Night" event is to begin at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Pre-sale lanterns can be purchased at United Way, 201 S. Washington St. or before the launch Friday.
DeMonte said the first six lanterns are to be launched in honor of the family lost in the fire Sunday.
She said that they still need volunteers for the event.
DeMonte said she hoped the campaign will make the community more aware of what they are a part of and how community members can get involved.
"You realize you're not alone," she said. "And really, that's what our community is so good about. We make sure, when there's a problem, that we are there for people, that we help them as best we can to meet their needs, and then we hope that other people will pass it forward."
DeMonte said that in the past week, she has seen the community come together to help the family of the victims of Sunday's fire. She said the United Way has been helping with information referral.
"We want to be sure that she's surrounded by good people to protect her from anything else at this point," she said. "Her family is very supportive."
Throughout the year, the United Way provides funds for agencies that focus on education, income and health. Individuals can either donate to a specific agency or to the United Way to be distributed among the agencies. DeMonte said each of the 23 agencies get the donations that they have been designated, then can apply to a volunteer committee for a portion of the undesignated donations.
Primary agencies, such as Allen Eiry Center, Patchworks House and the Salvation Army, are able to appeal for additional funds, while associate agencies, such as Seneca County 4-H, Financial Assistance for Cancer Treatment and National Alliance for Mental Illness, only receive the funds specifically designated for those organizations.
Agencies then appeal to the committee and explain how they have used the donated funds in the past, how the funds have benefited the community, and why they need funds this year.
DeMonte said the United Way only takes out enough for operating costs and shrinkage. If someone is not able to meet their donation obligation, they are able to take their donation back from the United Way's shrinkage. That way, the United Way does not distribute funds it does not have.
If they set aside more shrinkage funds than necessary, the United Way is able to donate those funds after the next year's campaign.
DeMonte said that through the campaign, the United Way hopes to "bring awareness to the needs of people in the community."
"Our focus, from Tiffin-Seneca United Way, is to improve the lives of the residents of Seneca County and to encourage our community to care for one another," she said.
For more information or to donate, contact Tiffin-Seneca United Way at (419) 448-0355 or visit its website at www.tiffin-seneca-unitedway.org.