Ugly Sweater Contest Success

‘Book Bank’ Program Benefits From Unusual Fund-Raiser

“Ugly” never looked prettier.

Thanks to a $4,000 “Ugly Sweater” fund-raiser at engineering firm EMH&T in New Albany, Homeport has exceeded its funding goals to provide new books to children in its communities for the upcoming Winter Break.

“EMH&T has been a key supporter of our children through toy drives, back to school supply drives and the Book Bank program. But this effort and impact surpassed all others,” said Morgen Wade, Homeport’s Manager of Volunteer Engagement.

Morgen Wade, center, accepted donation for Homeport

Morgen Wade, center, accepted donation for Homeport

“This quadruples the single largest gift the Book Bank program has received in its three-year history. And it also marks the first time that a company matched its employees’ contributions. We are pleased and the kids will be thrilled,” Wade said.

The contest netted $1,900 in donations from EMH&T’s employees. The company chose to match the donations and “round up” to $4,000 before issuing a check to Homeport, said Sandy Doyle-Ahern, President of EMH&T.

The overall book bank program will provide more than 500 new books to children of all ages through age 18.  The books for the drive are based on input from librarians and Homeport children and represent a cross section of topics and classics.

The program’s goal is to engage children in learning during school breaks so they are less likely to regress in their ability to read or retain knowledge.

EMH&Ts Mike Brehm and Todd Cunningham at a meeting with the City of Columbus Department of Public Service

EMH&Ts Mike Brehm and Todd Cunningham at a meeting with the City of Columbus Department of Public Service

An original supporter of Homeport’s Book Bank program, EMH&T chose to move away from traditional purchases of books, hoping an engaging challenge would create laughter, fun -- and additional funds to buy books. Hence the Ugly Sweater contest, where employees bid on who had to wear, for one day, tacky looking sweaters designed by co-workers. The sweaters had to be worn even in meetings with clients.

“We told them nobody could change their schedules,” said Doyle-Ahern, EMH&T’s president.

Mike Keller of EMH&T’s Construction Services Department said he e-mailed two clients, Grove City and the City of Columbus, about his unusual garb, a day before he met them at their offices.

“Everyone had a good time. Lots of laughs,” Keller said. “I took my embarrassment and helped build an awareness of what Homeport does.”

In some cases, the clients EMH&T employees met chose to offer their own personal contributions in support of the Book Bank program.

The books will be provided at Book Fairs in Homeport’s communities the week before winter break. The fairs double as a party with arts and crafts, read-aloud events, raffle prizes and games.

At Marsh Run’s Book Fair, the Columbus Metropolitan Library will debut its Kindergarten Readiness class for Homeport’s Marsh Run, Raspberry Glen and Kimberly Meadows communities.

The award winning Bright Ideas Book Bank program, known simply as “Book Bank,” has enjoyed community and business support since its outset.

Among those who joined EMH&T this year in meeting the needs of Homeport children were: Shremshock; Chase NextGen Committee; First Merit Bank; Starbucks; Homeport Young Professionals; Target; Half Price Books on Brice Road, Walmarts on Route 256 and in Canal Winchester; Second and Seven Foundation; Ohio State University’s fraternities and sororities; Clintonville Rotary, and Meijer (Hamilton Road).