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January 17, 2014

UPDATE: Baby, it’s cold outside — but United Day for United Way heats up

TERRE HAUTE — Even a temperature hovering in the low teens has not frozen the enthusiasm of the United Day for United Way volunteers, a handful of whom are spending the day on the roof of Baesler’s Market to raise money.

A midmorning check-in at the donation location revealed that heavy coats, scarves, gloves and ski masks were the fashion statements of the day for the volunteers. A wife of one United Way board member said that her husband wisely wore a pair of her tights under his pants to hold in body heat.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett even spent a few minutes on the rooftop this morning, when he presented a proclamation declaring United Day for United Way in the city. Bundled up in a Duke Energy jacket and work pants, Bennett rose to the roof in one of the utility’s bucket trucks.

“I feel sorry for those guys,” Bennett said after returning to ground level. “It’s been cold before when we’ve done this, but this is as cold as I remember it.”

Bennett warmed up in the cart area at the front of the grocery store before going out to do his hourlong turn as a celebrity gas pumper at the Baesler’s gasoline pumps.

“Even though it’s so cold, people still need to buy gas,” he said.

Customers at the market received a 6-percent discount on their grocery purchases, as well as a 6-cent discount on each gallon of gas purchased.

Collection buckets were also set up to receive customer donations both inside the store and at the gas pumps, where local celebrities vied for tips while filling gas tanks and washing car and truck windows.

“About one of every 10 customers has put something in the bucket,” said volunteer Dan Gmelich, who manned the indoor donation bucket for an hour.

He handed off his duties to Pam Grimes, who was volunteering for her third United Day. A check of the donation bucket revealed a lot of change as well as paper currency.

“I’m glad to see the bucket filling up,” Grimes said.

Donations help the United Way of the Wabash Valley raise $20,000 in 12 hours as a final push toward the annual $1.8 million campaign goal.

Contributions can be made at numerous locations in Terre Haute, as well as collection sites in Brazil, Sullivan and Clinton. Donors also can contribute by eating out today, when several local restaurants have pledged to contribute a portion of their sales to the United Way.

 

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