Philanthropy ‘alive and well’ in Miami County

PIQUA — The sacrifices that Miami County residents make by giving their up time, money, and talents toward the betterment of others both locally and nationally were celebrated Thursday evening at the Miami County Foundation’s Philanthropy Day event. The event was held at Hartzell Propeller, which was well-attended by members, officials, and leaders in the community.

After a prayer from Matthew Klimis, pastor of the Piqua branch of the CLC, Executive Director Melissa Kleptz of the Troy Foundation read a proclamation from Ohio State Sen. Bill Beagle, paying tribute to the chambers of commerce in Miami County.

“Since their inceptions, the chambers of commerce have enhanced the quality of life in our communities,” Kleptz read.

Kleptz then went over a few statistics regarding the total amount of money donated in the United States in 2014, including the following:

• Total giving to charitable organizations was $358.38 billion in 2014, which is an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars and 5.4 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2013

• The majority of that giving came from individuals, giving approximately $258.5 billion (72 percent) and representing a 5.7 percent increase from 2013 (4 percent when adjusted for inflation)

• Giving by bequest amounted to $28.1 billion, which was an increase of 15.5 percent in current dollars (or 13.6 percent when adjusted for inflation) to

• Foundations gave $54 billion, which was an increase of 8.2 percent (or 6.5 percent when adjusted for inflation)

• Corporations donated $17.8 billion, which was an increase of 13.7 percent (or 11.9 percent when adjusted for inflation)

The majority of those donations were made for religious purposes, amounting to approximately $114 billion or 32 percent. Other causes that received donations included ones regarding education, human services, gifts to foundations, health, arts and humanities, international affairs, the environment, and more.

Kleptz also noted that Ohioans donated over $7 billion in 2014.

“All income levels in the state of Ohio are participating in philanthropy,” Kleptz said. “Ohio has a lot of really good things going on. … Our county has been blessed.”

Hartzell Propeller was also recognized this year for its commitment to charity and community.

“Hartzell Propeller is an amazing company with amazing employees,” Cheryl Stiefel-Francis, executive director of the Miami County Foundation, said. She pointed out that Hartzell Propeller will soon be celebrating its 100 year anniversary.

“Millions of dollars have been donated by (Hartzell Propeller),” Stiefel-Francis said. “It truly is a family here … They truly are the best people.”

J.J. Frigge, executive vice president of Hartzell Propeller, reiterated those same remarks.

“We are a family,” Frigge said. “We are really passionate about our community roots.”

This year has been Hartzell Propeller’s 58th year of continous giving to United Way. According to Frigge, they also give to the American Cancer Society and have a school partnership program with fifth graders in Piqua City Schools.

“It’s not a company mandate,” Frigge said about participating and donating to these programs. “It’s really just our great honor to work with these programs.”

Leib Lurie, board president of Kids Read Now, then took to the stage to talk to the crowd how Kids Read Now is working to fight the summer reading slide for kids from low-income families.

“Every summer, poor kids slide back two to three months in learning,” Lurie said. “Rich kids pick up where they left off or come back better off … what that means is that half of students in Miami Valley start fourth grade behind, and a third are more than a year behind.”

Lurie explained their program, which gives children who live in low-income households free books throughout their summer vacation. Kids Read Now also has volunteers who also read with the children and check in with the children to see if they are reading those books.

“Read a book, get a book, keep a book,” Lurie said.

The necessity of keeping children current with their reading skills leads into their future as adults. Lurie explained that being able to read leads to better jobs for those kids in the future and keeping them out of jail.

“If you can’t read at fourth grade level, your odds of going to jail are two in ten if you’re a boy,” Lurie said.

Lurie’s presentation led into a presentation from Paul Hinds, a sixth grader at Piqua Central Intermediate. Lurie gave two cases of stuffed animals to Paulie’s Cause. Hinds stated that his project began after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where he collected stuff animals and donations to send to Sandy Hook.

“It was over 200 stuffed animals,” Hinds said. Hinds said the animals and donations included a note, saying, “This animal is given to you from your friends in Piqua, Ohio.”

Hinds explained that Sandy Hook received more than enough stuffed animals, so now Hinds gives stuffed animals to give Dayton Children’s Hospital.

“Philanthropy is alive and well in Miami County,” Karen Wendeln, executive director of the Piqua Foundation, said at the end of the event.

By Sam Wildow


Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall