By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
While every year of fundraising to help prevent premature births and help struggling babies is monumental in its own way, the 2012 Laurel County effort was one that Michelle Wesley will never forget.
Serving as the Director for the Cardinal Division of the March of Dimes, Wesley said 2012 had been exceptional in many ways. First, the dedication and efforts of individuals and teams for fundraising helped the local effort to exceed its goal of $35,000.
“As of today, and even without the contributions of the (London Kmart), we have raised $38,516,” Wesley said during the awards luncheon on Wednesday.
The London Kmart is still continuing their fundraising efforts, asking each customer passing through the checkout lanes for a $1 donation. Kmart is a national sponsor of the March of Dimes.
The top fundraisers were recognized during Wednesday’s luncheon with Hearthside Food Solutions (Laurel Cookie Factory) taking the first place spot by raising $6,514.79. Team chairs Stacy Shepherd and Renata Osborne said their fundraising efforts included selling T-shirts, having a Blue Jeans Day in which employees paid $1 to wear blue jeans to work rather than their required uniforms, and offering several raffles that included a free vacation day, Boyd’s Bears, and decorative wreath.
“We really didn’t even get started with this until March, and that was after the tornado,” Shepherd said. “We collected more than $5,000 for the tornado victims.”
The top national team, Kmart, listed a whopping $9,900 for the effort to provide funding for research, education and prevention about premature births, which often result in lifelong health problems for babies who are born too soon.
Betty Beckner, who began her crusade with the March of Dimes while employed at the long-defunct Micro Devices, continued her long reign as the Top Individual Fundraiser. This year, Beckner enlisted the help of her sister who made cakes and delivered them to local businesses for donations for the March of Dimes. Beckner raised $2,535 this year.
Other busineses with teams recognized on Wednesday included H R Connections (The Job Shop, Finley’s Fun Center, Technical Solutions) owned by the Finley family, with $1,089; Walmart Supercenter listed $1,134, edged out by Suntan City with $1,342.01.
The top five teams were:
L & N Credit Union, $1,364.70; First National Bank, $2,329.69; Ambulance Inc. of Laurel County, $2,372 -- which was doubled from the 2011 donations; and Walmart Distribution Center with $3,000 and taking second place. Hearthside Food Solutions, which did not participate in the 2011 fundraising campaign, came back this year and reclaimed their top spot from previous years.