As a youth, Joseph Pilla remembers hearing about the United Way when it was mentioned in commercials during televised National Football League games.
"You would see someone like Mean Joe Greene say the United Way works for all of us," said Pilla, owner of ETA Benefits Group, Tamaqua, and Skipper Dippers in Ginthers, who is serving as the 2011 Tamaqua Area United Way campaign chairman.
The Schuylkill United Way held its Tamaqua Area campaign kick-off breakfast Monday morning at DiMaggio's La Dolce Casa, Tamaqua, with close to 50 guests in attendance.
The Schuylkill County campaign, which held its kick-off on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Schuylkill Haven campus of Penn State University, has a goal of $1,000,001, which fits in with this year's campaign theme of "EveryONE Matters."
"Everyone does matter in this campaign," said Jeanne Boyer Porter, president of the Schuylkill United Way Board of Directors. "Every penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar will help us meet our goal."
So far, the Schuylkill general campaign has raised $226,570 in pledges, which is 23 percent of its goal, according to Eric Hollen, Wachovia and Wells Fargo Bank, the general campaign chairman. Last year's county-wide campaign raised $1,030,000, exceeding its $1 million goal.
The Tamaqua Area campaign has a goal of $120,001, of which $39,693 has been pledged to date, announced Pilla. Susan Fegley of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Hometown, is serving as assistant campaign chair for the Tamaqua area and will chair the 2012 campaign.
Pilla said that he has seen firsthand how the United Way benefits the people of Schuylkill County. The Schuylkill United Way serves 15 partner agencies and about 88,000, which is 50 percent of the county population.
"Later in life, I now get the opportunity to serve the United Way," said Pilla. "Through its past chairs, volunteers and its agencies, the United Way has always sought excellence. They are not an organization that just tries to maintain. They set high goals every year."
Pilla noted that the 2011 Pacesetters Club, which includes donors who have pledged $500 or more, has raised $148,789 to date from 141 pledges. A Pacesetters reception will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Sovereign Theater in Pottsville.
Thomas Cara of Air Products, a Schuylkill United Way board member, offered the welcome for the Tamaqua Area kick-off.
A video presentation, sponsored by Martha Herron of PPL and produced by Ed Redding of R&D Communications, along with VideoWorks Productions, was shown, which depicted member agencies displaying one thing that mattered to each of them.
Pilla said he is pleased with the progress of the campaign so far and is looking forward to another successful conclusion.
Funds raised through the Schuylkill United Way campaign remain within the county to serve its residents. Member agencies include the American Red Cross, Avenues (formerly United Cerebral Palsy), Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Schuylkill County, Boy Scouts of America Hawk Mountain Council, Child Development, Inc., Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pa., The Salvation Army Pottsville and Tamaqua Corps, SARCC (Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center), Schuylkill County Society for Crippled Children, Schuylkill Wellness Services, Schuylkill Women in Crisis, Schuylkill YMCA, Tamaqua Area Meals on Wheels, and the Tamaqua YMCA.
The 2011 campaign concludes on Friday, Nov. 19 with an appreciation breakfast at Penn State Schuykill. Those who contribute will be eligibe for prizes based on the amount of their donation.
For more information on the Schuylkill United Way, call (570) 622-6421 or visit www.schuylkillunitedway.org  on the web.