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MICHIGAN CITY — The Unity Foundation of La Porte County celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting a “Friends Helping Friends Give Day.” This event was a 39-hour fundraising drive that began Friday at 6 a.m. and continued through Saturday at 9 p.m. A grand total of $168,385 was raised from 398 gifts.

“The Unity Foundation was designed to do good forever, and raising $168,000 in just 39 hours is an amazing accomplishment,” said Foundation President Maggi Spartz. “We were delighted with the results.”

While Unity Foundation conducts fundraising events to celebrate its anniversary every five years, the ‘Friends Helping Friends’ theme was unique to this year’s celebration.

All Unity Foundation funds were eligible to participate in this event, 57 of which accepted. The Friends Helping Friends event challenged the 57 organizations to raise the most donations in order to win prizes given by the Foundation. The five organizations to raise the most money through gifts split a prize of $15,000 given by the Unity Foundation Endowment.

“The founding members of the Unity Foundation were visionaries, pioneers, they took risks,” said Unity Foundation Co-chairman Ed Volk. “La Porte County is better off because they were there. They were friends helping friends.”

The Friends Helping Friends Give Day came to a conclusion with a dinner at the Blue Chip Stardust Event Center on Saturday evening. More than 200 people attended the gala, making last minute donations and cheering on the leaderboard.

During the gala, which served guests a French inspired menu, the North American Brass Company, based out of the Mishawaka area, donated their time to provide music for the event. “We believe that a lot of awareness was raised about the Unity Foundation and the many organizations involved,” said Spartz. “This is a win-win for the entire community.”

The Unity Foundation hosted Pledge-a-palooza in 2008 as part of their 15th anniversary. That event raised $125,000, a number that was surpassed this year by more than $43,000.

The Boys and Girls Club of Michigan City Endowment Fund won first place, receiving a total of $23,216 in donations over the 39-hour period. In addition, this group was awarded $5,000 from the Unity Foundation.

Second place was the Salvation Army of Michigan City Endowment Fund, raising $20,150 in donations and receiving an additional $4,000 from the Unity Foundation.

The Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation came in third place, raising $17,812 in donations and receiving a $3,000 prize.

In fourth place was the La Porte County YMCA with $10,650 in donations and a $2,000 prize from the Unity Foundation.

Receiving the fifth place prize from Unity Foundation of $1,000 was the Ivy Tech Michigan City Pejic Campus Fund, raising $10,285 in donations.

An additional $5,000 was given out to organizations by the Unity Foundation in other prizes including the “Early Bird Friend, the Lunch Buddies Friend, the Saturday in the Park Prize, the Weekend Warrior Prize and the Procrastinator Prize.”

By Jessica O’Brien
Staff Writer
Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 5:06 PM CDT

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