YMCA holds day of fun for good cause

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The YMCA of Central Ohio helps to improve the lives of thousands of people each year. Its mission is to serve the community as a whole through programs that promote a healthy lifestyle. These programs include swim lessons, dance classes, exercise groups and summer day camps, as well as several other activities.

Becoming a member, however, can be expensive. To make sure that no individual or family is left behind because of the inability to pay, the Hilltop YMCA holds several fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money. These funds then go towards the cost of memberships for low income residents. This is done through the organizations People Helping People campaign.

The largest of these fundraisers is the Penny Carnival, a day of fun and games for neighborhood children, all at the cost of one penny each, according to Connie Crump, fitness coordinator for the Hilltop YMCA.

This year, the carnival is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Hilltop YMCA, 2879 Valleyview Dr.

Activities for the carnival include games, the book mobile from the Columbus Metropolitan Library, canoe rides in the pool, bouncy rides, Blue Jackets Slap Shot, Columbus Clippers Speed Pitch and mascots from several area teams and organizations.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s organized chaos,” said Crump.

According to a recent press release from the Hilltop YMCA, the Penny Carnival started in 2002 and raised $200. To increase the event’s fundraising power, it was paired with the annual Healthy Kids Day, a national awareness event promoting healthy lifestyles for children.

As a part of Healthy Kids Day, kids learn to eat healthy and exercise. They are also taught the importance of drug and alcohol resistance and regular check-ups with a doctor or licensed physician.

Not only for kids, the event also focuses on caregivers, teaching parents, grandparents and guardians how to lead by example.

Local health care professionals, such as dentists and optometrists, will be on hand to provide screenings. The Columbus Division of Police S.W.A.T. Unit will bring their Armored Vehicle, and the Columbus Division of Fire will have their smoke house on site to discuss fire safety and exit plans with children and their parents.

The day will also include a silent auction, with items donated by area businesses, YMCA members and staff. Items to be auctioned off include hand-crafted items, home décor, and gift certificates for various foods, goods and services. Some of the highlights for this year’s auction include tickets to Kings Island and the Columbus Zoo.

Items to be auctioned are currently on display at the Hilltop YMCA and bidding has begun. All proceeds from the silent auction will go towards the People Helping People campaign of the YMCA.

Since combining the events, the Penny Carnival/Healthy Kids Day has raised an estimated $3,000 for the campaign each year. That money goes back to the community, in the form of memberships and scholarships.

Through all of its fundraisers in 2007, the Hilltop YMCA raised a total of $29,000. With those funds, they provided memberships to 195 families, 50 adults and 55 children. They also gave scholarships for swim team to five children, and helped 500 youth through partnerships with various neighborhood organizations. This year, they have raised the bar by setting a goal of $30,000.

For more information, call the Hilltop YMCA at 276-8224.

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