Home > United Way | Live United > Celebration & Unite to End Hunger – March 10, 2016

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who made this year’s Celebration and Unite to End Hunger food sculpture contest a big success. It was a fun day honoring the donors and volunteers who made raising $2,639,450 possible! And we got to shine the light on our partner agencies who are doing the work of changing lives right here in Northeast Mississippi.

catWe were thrilled to once again host the Unite to End Hunger food sculpture competition with 6 great entries this year. Check out the photos of the sculptures on Facebook. And congratulations to the winners! All these teams put a lot of creativity and time into their sculptures. And at the end of the day, all the food went to help our partner agencies feed hungry families in Northeast Mississippi. Thanks to everyone who participated!12829273_10154032306661602_5609197402413289941_o

After everyone voted for their favorite sculpture, it was time to celebrate! The New Albany High School Jazz Band played for guests as they arrived and got seated. They are a very talented group of young people!

12795041_10154032288121602_5060396780485675813_oOur focus this year was on our partner agencies so the decorations reflected them. We had photos from various agencies around the stage and conference center. And we invited agencies to decorate the tables so that guests could learn a little more about their agency during the program. We are very lucky to have very creative folks working at our agencies! The table decorations were gorgeous and gave the room a fun, colorful feeling. Guests were very impressed at all the intricate centerpieces. Check out the album on Facebook!

During the program, we honored all the businesses and volunteers that make our campaign a big success. We gave out awards for corporate gifts and employee campaigns, and all those awards can be found in the program. We also honored our ECCs and our leadership givers, also listed in the program.

Awards not listed in the program included:

  • Growth Award for the largest percentage increase for an organization with total giving under $10,000. Awarded to Diversity Vu-Teq, for an increase of 697%
  • Progress Award for the largest percentage increase for an organization with total giving over $10,000. Awarded to Belk, Inc., for an increase of 506%
  • Advancement Award for the largest dollar increase for an organization with total giving under $10,000. Awarded to Super Sagless, for an increase of $4,829
  • Achievement Award for the largest dollar increase for an organization with total giving over $10,000. Awarded to North Mississippi Medical Center, for an increase of $32,546
  • Distinguished Service Award for commitment to excellence in campaign ideas and practices. Awarded to PHILIPS.
  • Best New Campaign for exceptional participation in a first employee campaign. Awarded to Systems Automotive Interiors.
  • Campaign Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Shey Edwards from the Lee County School District.

We also honored this year’s J.G. Berry Award recipient, Mr. Ted Moll, who couldn’t join us Thursday but was able to accept his award early and record a few words to share with the audience.12029642_10154032307646602_7122345045480815224_o

Another special honoree was United Way executive director, Melinda Tidwell, who celebrated 25 years of service at United Way last week. The board and staff honored her with a plaque to recognize her many years of dedicated work for Northeast Mississippi.

921169_10154032307896602_2438986375532630102_oToyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi made a special presentation of $5,000 gifts to three United Way agencies that focus on serving elders: Mississippi Methodist Senior Services (Meals on Wheels and the Sunday Fund), the Shepherd’s Center of Greater Tupelo, and Three Rivers Area Aging on Agency (home-delivered meals program).


Of course no United Way Celebration is completely without at least a little bit of humor, and 2016 Campaign Chair Rob Rice and board member Greg Pirkle were willing to help, as usual. And a very special thanks to Craig Ford and the WTVA staff for helping with this video!

12841147_10154032308146602_5786134152404518166_oFinally, the New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults treated our guests to a song to wrap up the program.

Once the awards were done, volunteers headed back to the Arena to pack up the food sculptures. Our partner food pantries and other agencies were able to receive the food donations to take back and feed those in need.

Again, we cannot thank everyone enough for helping us make the Celebration — and the 2015 Campaign — a success. It truly takes an entire community to do the work of United Way and we thank each and every one of you for everything you to show that UNITED WE CAN make Northeast Mississippi better!

Please check our Facebook page for more photos of the event!