Pigs create a big squeal for YouthZone | PostIndependent.com

Pigs create a big squeal for YouthZone

Kay Vasilakis
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kay Vasilakis

In the 20th year of YouthZone’s biggest fundraiser, Kiss-n-Squeal has already raised more than $60,600 for the organization that helps local young people become responsible citizens and stay out of trouble. But for its 20th year, organizers want to raise $200,000. You can become involved by voting for your favorite candidate to receive the Kiss-n-Squeal’s highest honor – to kiss a real, live, squealing pig.

This fundraiser allows YouthZone to supplement the cost of services, and to help kids and their families pay for those services.

“We consider Kiss-n-Squeal to be a community fundraiser, and it is the community’s way of showing their support for kids and families,” said YouthZone’s Special Events Coordinator Mary Jean Carnevale.

She continued, “The benefit to the community is great. By helping YouthZone help kids, there is cost savings to the community through safer neighborhoods and healthier families. Just one kid can cost up to $58,000 to be held in a detention facility. That same kid going through YouthZone would average $2,000 for the program. Seventy-six percent of the kids are diverted from any further criminal activity after working with YouthZone.”

Kiss-n-Squeal started in 1991 as a one-time event, but the community asked for it to return after its first successful year. One hundred seventy-eight community members have been candidates since its inception.

“Kiss-n-Squeal is a fun way for people to join together in a common cause,” Carnevale said.

Candidates create their own unique individual fundraisers, such as barbecues and car washes, and the Wilde family even hosts an outdoor pizza oven event at their home for supporters to vote for their favorite Kiss-n-Squeal participant.

This year’s candidate teams include Alpine Bank, Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs Noon Rotary, Grand River Hospital District, La Nueva Mix and The Property Shop.

Carnevale really knows how to get her candidates into the pig spirit. Candidates receive a variety of pig items and memorabilia. During Kiss-n-Squeal season, she is constantly on the Pig Trail, helping candidates with their various fundraisers.

In the Glenwood YouthZone office, 693 pigs of all shapes and sizes are displayed during the event. The Rifle office also has its quantity of pigs. Pigs have come into the collection from all over the world, including Brazil, Italy, Spain, France, and most of the 50 states.

“People have dropped off their pig collections at our front door,” Carnevale said. “One of the most amazing things is that of all these pigs, there are only four duplicates that have been received.”

“One year every pig I received was an angel pig. I had to laugh, thinking that I had finally made it to angel status in my pig endeavors.”

And then there is the crazy factor, the pig-stealing component to the whole Kiss-n-Squeal event. A special large pig made out of a big barrel can be “stolen” from out-of-the-ordinary places when discovered by other candidates. The pig has been stolen from on top of banks, a fitness center and other buildings, and the candidates who make the considerable effort to relocate the pig receive a designated amount of votes.

“We want people to know that we need their help,” Carnevale said. “The finale is approaching, and we want them to be counted in as part of the reason we made ‘pigs fly’ and proved that nothing is impossible when people join together to help others.”

The deadline to bid on the on-line auction is 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9. Items include an Evel Knievel signed helmet, lift tickets, dinners, paintings, an airplane ride with Steve Shute, and five nights in a Maui condo.

The fundraiser’s finale starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, at Two Rivers Park. A free barbecue will be provided by the Glenwood Springs Noon Rotary Club. Carson Wilde and Garrett Noel will offer their musical talents, and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Stop by the park and have some fun, and see who gets to kiss Hamlet, this year’s special pig.

You can donate at the event, but organizers would like to have money in before the event, if possible. You can donate online, send in money, drop off money, contact a candidate, or contact YouthZone by phone at 945-9300.

“We have raised $1,499,792 over 19 years,” said Carnevale proudly. “In 2008, people generously gave $192,815. For our 20th year, we are shooting to raise $200,000. Folks have said it is impossible to raise that much money, but at YouthZone we don’t believe things are impossible, and we strive to pass that philosophy on to kids and families.”

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