By BETHANY WIEGAND
Connecting the Pieces, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for local autism services, will hold the fourth annual Community Day fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 1 at Indian Park, Montoursville.
The original members of Connecting the Pieces (CTP) all worked for Community Services Group, a local company that provides services for children diagnosed with autism spectrum, according to Bill Winder, a member of CTP.
"We had each participated in autism walks and other events to raise autism awareness," Winder said. "Four years ago, we decided that we could create our own fundraising group and, with the help of Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living, we were able to do so," he said.
Along with Winder, the other members of CTP are Gina Mostoller, Stacey Page-Miller, Daniel Woleslagle, Jodi Woleslagle and Paula Yeckley, along with many volunteers.
CTP's goal is to raise funds locally to go to autism service providers, including supplies, training and education, to help children with autism, Winder said.
Community Day is the organization's largest fundraising event, and the past three years have enabled the organization to donate thousands of dollars locally.
"We have donated several thousand dollars to local schools and service providers and helped children diagnosed with autism participate in programs they may not have been able to otherwise afford," Winder said.
CTP also raises funds through pizza sales, yard sales, burger burns and an Atlantic City bus trip.
"The event keeps getting bigger and better and we hope that continues. The more people who come and participate in this family-oriented event, the more money we raise to help those affected by autism," Winder said. "Currently, one in 88 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, but it impacts the entire community. With some local schools closing and others cutting their support personnel, it is more important than ever that we provide adequate training, education and supplies to meet the needs of the ever-growing autism population."
Community Day will be a carnival-style event with a Chinese auction. Winder said some of the auction items include a 32-inch television, a Nexus 7 tablet, jewelry, a pig roast for 20 people, Phillies tickets, Penn State tickets, Mohegan Sun and Seven Springs packages, and more than 100 additional prizes.
For the children, there will be a bounce house, activities and games. Food vendors also will be on site.
"Our focus this year is really on getting participation from the entire community and not just the autism community. We will have vendors and community service providers which are not limited to autism, including the SPCA, real estate agencies, jewelry and other businesses," Winder said.
"We all live in this community, and if we all come together for events like Community Day, we can not only raise funds, but also improve the understanding and acceptance of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders," Winder said.
To participate in Community Day or to make a donation to Connecting the Pieces, visit the Connecting the Pieces Facebook page, email ctp.autism@gmail .com or call 435-7184.