In Indy, fall signals the start of both football and philanthropic seasons. To celebrate, United Way of Central teamed up with the Indianapolis Colts to host The BIG Kickoff on Friday, September 9, 2016. Due to the possibility of bad weather, the event was moved indoors. And thanks to Emmis Communications for providing their lobby space, the event celebration continued without interruption.

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The BIG Kickoff featured the chance to win free Colts tickets, photo opportunities with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, free Colts posters and autographs from Colts cheerleaders and alumni. At noon there was a presentation with Jimmy “Mad Dog” Matis and United Way Engagement Co-chairs Rafael Sanchez with IPL and Rafael Sanchez with RTV6.

During the presentations 15 organizations that help the homeless were presented with housewarming baskets for clients who are moving into their first homes. The organizations below received 7 baskets, valued at $100 each. That’s 105 housewarming baskets filled with over $10,000 worth of household necessities for our newest neighbors!

• Coburn Place
• Eskenazi Health Midtown Mental Health
• HealthNet Homeless Initiative Program
• Outreach
• Partners in Housing
• Wheeler Mission Ministry
Holy Family Shelter
Horizon House
Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation of Indiana
John Boner Community Centers
The Julian Center
The Salvation Army
Sheltering Wings
Volunteers of America
WellSpring Center

All items were donated by individuals and corporations. United Way would like to send a special thanks to the following groups for going above and beyond to support this initiative:

• Cushman & Wakefield – supplies to fill more than 20 baskets & 100 $25 Kroger gift cards
• Indianapolis Power & Light Company – 100 3-pack of LED bulbs
• Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana – 100 $10 gift certificates
• Sister Friends Fellowship – 1,000 trash bags

Overall, the BIG Kickoff and Stock the House were about teamwork, which is what it takes for our community to thrive. Check out the video from the 2016 BIG Kickoff!