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Prepping for puckering

Article Published: Dec. 15, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Prepping for puckering

It's something to squeal about.

It's the United Way's Big Pig Kiss-off, and, after three months, the lips will finally pucker Saturday.
The initiative, part of High Country United Way's $550,000 2010-11 campaign, kicked off in September with area business leaders like Mountain Times Publication's Gene Fowler and High Country Radio Group's Mike Kelly making a porky promise: To kiss a pig if their groups meet a fundraising goal. While MTP has raised cash at area festivals and at a successful Friday karaoke night, fundraisers have resorted to many means to make the cash.

"I know Jason Triplett (Wachovia) has just been pretty much going out and knocking on all his friend's doors," HCUW director Linda Slade said. "High Country Radio Group had a phone-a-thon one morning to raise money. Everybody's been active."

And not just active, but enthusiastic.

"What's so fun is that everybody is willing to kiss a pig," she said. "They are so willing to kiss the pig."

And they've taken the pig theme to new heights. Take Mast General Store's fundraising team.

"They dressed up in pig hats," Slade said. "They had hog rubs, stuff that you shake on your pork ... they've had a lot of fun with this."

And that's the point: To have fun and spread awareness about United Way and its partner agencies.

"It shows raising money can be serious, but it doesn't have to be," Slade said. "It can still be fun.

The exposure has been fabulous for us."

With falling thermometers and rising electric bills, it's more important than ever to help your neighbors, she said.

"Everybody's been put in a pinch with this economy, and it's really hard for those who struggle day to day anyway," she said.

Add in the cold, "and it's been a big hurdle," Slade said. "It's been a big hurdle to everyone because none of us have that disposable income."

And the fact that the community continues to step up amazes and inspires Slade. Saturday's Pig Kissing is more than the culmination of a fundraising initiative, it's a celebration of a community effort.

"We want a big cheering section," she said.

It happens at Appalachian State University's basketball game Saturday and "tickets are a squeal of a deal at $5 for everybody," Slade said.

The game starts at 3 p.m., and she hopes for a crowd to cheer on the kissers.

High Country United Way funds 24 partner agencies, including Hospitality House and Western Youth Network. For more information on HCUW and the agencies it supports, visit

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