Thursday, July 1, 2004

GE donations make impact for organizations and people

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

GE volunteers Walt Buttrill and Miles Vaught deliver a cake and a check for Boys Hope Girls Hope to Sister Melanie Bair, executive director of the organization, Wednesday. GE delivered donations amounting to $1,238,675 to local nonprofit organizations.
EVENDALE - For Greg, 13, the $2,550 check means he and four other boys at the Boys Hope home in Springfield Township will be able to go to the Y this summer.

For Patricia Wakim, executive director of Over-the-Rhine Soup Kitchen, who was handed a $3,225 check Wednesday, the money means the nonprofit won't have to throw away excess food donations any more.

The checks were given out by teams of GE employees, who hit the streets to pass out pink-and-green balloons, cakes and 16 checks to agencies across Greater Cincinnati.

GE Transportation executives distributed $1,238,675 at a ceremony Wednesday at GE's Evendale plant. The money included matches of employee and retiree gifts and other awards.

Among the larger donations:

• Greater Cincinnati United Way: $700,000.

• University of Cincinnati: $144,000.

• Xavier University: $98,000.

• Foundation of Compassionate American Samaritans: $78,159.

About 30 other organizations got checks, ranging from $140 to $37,500.

This was the fifth year for GE Transportation's cash giveaway, said Paula Kollstedt, a GE spokeswoman. The donations have totaled almost $5 million in that time.

One team, Miles Vaught, 46, of Cold Spring, and Walt Buttrill, 51, of West Chester, delivered a check - and dessert - to Sister Melanie Bair, executive director of Boys Hope Girls Hope as four teens in the program ate a lunch of pepperoni pizza at the boys' home.

"We can go to the Y!" Bair exclaimed as she opened the envelope.

"We are very happy and lucky," 13-year-old Greg said. "If we wouldn't get this donation, there's some stuff that we probably wouldn't be able to do this summer."

At the team's next visit, to Over-the-Rhine Soup Kitchen, Wakim said the money would go toward the $50,000 cost of reinforcing the floors and walls for a walk-in freezer to keep donated meat and produce longer.

"Sometimes we have to throw food away," Wakim said.

Vaught, manager of photographic services, said he became a volunteer himself after a visit as a corporate photographer to an agency helping sexually abused children.

One girl was so traumatized she refused to talk, he said.

"It took everything I had to get my job done and take pictures, and not cry," Vaught said.


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