MUNCY - "It's important to focus on the local needs first, and if we all do what we can to help our neighbors, we can have a tremendous impact on our community."
That was the message heard over and over at Kellogg's Muncy plant.
"I've never seen people so dedicated and caring as I have here," said plant Manager Tim Bair. "We are a 24/7 operation, but employees here make time to volunteer in the community whenever they can and continue to work hard here at the bakery. They constantly demonstrate a sincere commitment to their neighbors every day.
"United Way is a tool that helps us deliver part of our caring," Bair added. "In the third year of a recession, I'm very proud to share that our team continues to give more each year."
Led by in-house volunteers Chris Boschi, Brenda Gardner, Krystal Shelman and Barbie Tompkins, the plant holds team meetings to discuss the mission of United Way, as well as the community's most pressing needs.
"When I see people in need, people affected by disasters like the flood last fall or a family with a child that has severe special needs, I want to be able to help," Boschi said. "I give because I trust United Way and I trust the organization because I've volunteered in several capacities and have seen the inner workings. I've participated in the funds distribution process several times and I am always impressed with how thorough the process is and how caring the volunteers are."
Another Kellogg volunteer who has helped with funds distribution is Ed Blair.
"At first I didn't know how United Way worked or how many agencies it funded but when I volunteered for an allocations panel, I learned a lot. Many of the programs depend on that funding to stay open," Blair explained. "You never know when you may be the one who needs a program funded by United Way. I'm happy to support it because I know they help thousands of local people."
Employee Herb Stelly was one of those people. In 2006, he and his family lost everything in a house fire.
"The Red Cross helped us with temporary housing and gift cards to replace our clothing," Stelly said. "I know United Way provides funding to the Red Cross for disasters so I give because they helped me. We're all supposed to help each other."
It is clear the Kelloggs team shares the same philosophy of compassion.
"Where would we be without community service?" questioned employee Ricky Michael, who runs 5K races for several local charities. "I like that I can allocate my donation to specific programs or needs areas. I have family members who have used several of the programs United Way funds and with one gift, I can help each of those programs."
There is one particular program that is near and dear to the heart of Becky Haas, another loyal United Way giver and Kellogg employee.
"I am glad to give and want to help," Haas said. "Last year we utilized a program through Susquehanna Health's Home Care and Hospice. When someone shows you or your family special kindness, you want to be able to pass that on."
"The people at Kellogg's are very generous to our community and United Way and we appreciate their support immensely," said Scott N. Lowery, executive director of Lycoming County United Way. "In addition, through our 'Forest of Philanthropy,' we recognize outstanding corporate giving in a way that links the past tradition of the community's lumber-driven birth with the sustaining nurturing of today's business support."
"The combination of employee and corporate giving at Kellogg's is exceptional," he added. "They've been the largest giver in the county for more than a decade, and we simply can't thank them enough."
The Muncy bakery opened in 1988 and has a long history of supporting United Way through volunteerism, donations, and sponsoring the former 'Day of Caring,' according to Lowery.
"Kellogg employees are quick to pitch in to help our neighbors and we could not serve our mission without people like them. We are extremely grateful to have such a good neighbor to work with," Lowery concluded.