TERRE HAUTE —
With their sights set on the $20,000 mark, local celebrities are pumping gas and bagging groceries today at Baesler’s Market as part of the seventh-annual United Day for United Way. The Wabash Valley nonprofit organization is in the midst of a final push to meet the goal of raising $1.86 million.
About 92 percent of the goal — or $1,710,909 — has been raised up to today.
United Day began at 7 a.m. and continues to 7 p.m. with donation sites peppered throughout the Valley. Visit www.uwwv.org for a complete list of donation sites as well as a list of restaurants participating in the Dine United event, also part of today’s fund raising.
A fun aspect of the campaign blitz features the celebrity gas pumpers and grocery baggers at Baesler’s, where they will seek tips for donation to the United Way. The United Way website also lists the names of those volunteers and the times when they will be sacking food or filling gas tanks.
“It’s a really great cause for a good community,” said James Taylor of Alorica as he bagged groceries at the end of a checkout counter.
“This is very hard work, this bagging,” Taylor joked with a customer. He had already completed an hour of pumping gas, and was thankful to be indoors out of the weather for a while.
“Last year when we did this, it was really cold,” he said.
Cashier Monica Williams said the United Day effort at Baesler’s draws a lot of customers. While the morning sales are usually slower, she said she expected traffic to pick up by midmorning.
United Way board member Nancy Rogers, who was manning a table near the front of the store to accept donations and distribute information, said the busiest donation time for the annual bagger/pumper event is usually between 3 and 7 p.m.
Out at the gas pumps, Jeff Malloy made sure to stop for fuel on his way to work at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. It was by no coincidence that he stopped at the pump where college president Dottie King was pumping gas.
King jokingly said she had seen 20 percent of the university staff fill up their tanks during her shift at the pumps, and she was wondering when the other 80 percent were going to get there.
Some celebrities include Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, who will bag groceries from noon to 1 p.m.; Indiana State University Provost Jack Maynard, who will work from 4 to 5 p.m.; and Lynn Hughes, director of the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, who soon begins her 10 to 11 a.m. shift.
People can purchase gasoline at Baesler’s with a 6-cent per-gallon discount today, with celebrities pumping fuel and washing windows. Volunteers manning the pumps include Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing and Vigo County Superintendent Dan Tanoos.