(Editor's note: This article was originally published in Our Town and is being published here with permission.)
Our Town Correspondent
Nearly 700 supporters gathered at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial for the most successful Power of the Purse event in the history of the fundraiser for the United Way of the Laurel Highlands.
This year’s event, held Sept. 8, raised $50,000 to support the organization’s early childhood development and parental engagement core initiatives.
A new part of the early childhood work includes the Diaper Bank the nonprofit launched earlier this year to help fill the void many families face each month. The National Diaper Bank Network estimates that approximately 1-in-3 families struggle to afford diapers each month.
“Donations of diapers at last year’s Power of the Purse built our starting inventory and this year attendees’ donations will replenish our stock,” Karen Struble Myers, president and CEO, said.
According to Rick Kazmer, community relationship and marketing manager, volunteers accepted donations of approximately 24,000 diapers at this year’s Power of the Purse.
Myers explained that the relocation of Power of the Purse to the arena from the Pasquerilla Conference Center enabled organizers to add activities, to increase the number of purses raffled and to expand attendance by 200.
“Soon after last year’s event in October, people made their reservations for this year and several businesses renewed their sponsorships,” she said. “The community has embraced this event led by our local Women United and staffed by more than 40 volunteers. The purses are beautiful, and this is a great opportunity for fun and fellowship.”
Both long-time and first-time attendees agreed.
Teresa Hoffman, who has attended each Power of the Purse event, brought her aunt, Joyce Prestia, who lives in Pittsburgh.
“I like the new setup. We have more space for more people and more purses,” Hoffman said as she and Prestia checked out the new Tower of Purses raffle, with multiple purses going to the winner. “It’s a fun evening.”
In addition to Tower of Purses, activities included a Kate Spade wine set raffle, early bird raffle, hostess raffle, travel set raffle and cash purse raffle.
Laura Thomas, who also has attended each year, enjoys the multiple opportunities for attendees to win.
“It’s nice to come with friends. Plus, I love purses!”
Long-time attendee Jen Kohan had a table, including first-time attendee Kim Knapp.
“This is exciting. It’s an impressive event,” Knapp said.
Kohan added, “It’s an awesome event. I love that we have so much more space.”
Somerset County Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes commented, “This is a wonderful evening for a good cause and it’s great to see the event continuing to grow.”
She is also a United Way board member.
The event is important for sustainability, Struble Myers said.
“A successful Power of the Purse provides a lead gift for a strong kickoff to the annual fund campaign,” she said. “My thanks to Women United, our volunteers, sponsors and to our Community Impact Manager Paula Gojmerac, who has done a fantastic job in growing Power of the Purse and increasing our capacity for more guests, purses and activities.”