Flamingoes Invade Region

NEW BREMEN — Flocks of flamingos have taken over the yards of area residents who are helping raise money for a local charity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize and Van Wert counties has teamed up with Preferred Insurance Center for a fundraiser that is sending pink flamingos to the yards of New Bremen and St. Marys residents.

“We’ve never done anything to this extent in the past,” Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize and Van Wert Executive Director Abby Balster said. “We’ve seen it done in the community. Actually, Preferred Insurance came to us with the idea to help us to get started as a partner with them.”

When a yard is “flocked” with flamingos, the resident can call Preferred Insurance Center to have them removed for a $15 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters. For an additional $5, the resident can direct the flamingos to their next destination. More flamingos can also be added to the yard for an additional $3 per bird. If anyone would like to direct the flamingos to a particular house, but they have not yet been “flocked,” they can call Preferred Insurance Center to make a donation to make it happen.

Balster said she is currently focusing on New Bremen but she anticipates the fundraiser, which will last two to three months, to spread to St. Marys as well.

“Right now we’re focusing on New Bremen,” she said. “I’m planning on doing it in St. Marys in the future, I’m just working on getting some more people to help me move them.”

Balster said all calls regarding the flamingos are being directed to Preferred Insurance Center.

“Part of the reason is they’re also doing a promotion, where if you get a quote for insurance through Preferred Insurance — you don’t have to buy, it’s a no obligation-type thing — then Preferred Insurance will also donate an additional $10 back to Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Balster said.

The partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters and Preferred Insurance Center was spurred from Preferred Insurance Center’s 100th anniversary.

“They are celebrating their 100th year anniversary,” Balster said. “Since the community has given so much to Preferred Insurance, Preferred Insurance wants to give something back to the community. So, they picked six organizations to do this with.”

According to Preferred Insurance Center’s website, the company is dedicating 2012 to giving back to the community.

“We want to thank the people that have put their trust and faith in us and supported us for a century,” the website states.

“We are blessed beyond our comprehension to live and work in an area overflowing with people of integrity, character, compassion, ingenuity and faith.”

Balster said the money raised will greatly benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“The money that is going to be raised is a huge factor in our budget for us because we’ve taken a large cut from the government,” she said.

“We had two grants get cut that was about 30 percent of our budget last year that we’re missing for this year. So, we’re using this as an additional fundraiser to help make up for that loss.”

A United Way of Auglaize County partner agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters aids area children by providing support and guidance through volunteers.

Children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking, according to the organization’s website.

For more information, visit BBBSMA.com or PreferredCenter.com/about-us/social-good/. To remove or request flamingos, call Preferred Insurance Center at 877-415-8342.