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Pigs on parade: Creative United Way effort promotes financial empowerment in Hastings

The pigs, from left, include "Artie" from BreakAway Arts Center, "Star" from the Hastings Star Gazette, "Penny" from United Way of Hastings, "Bubbles" from Second Childhood Toys and "James Leonardo D'Oinker of Hastings" from Artspace Hastings River Lofts. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
The pigs are currently being displayed near the riverfront in downtown Hastings. Michelle Wirth / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

A parade of pigs joined United Way of Hastings at its kickoff event before the first home Raider football game Aug. 31.

No, not live pigs, but they were life-size statues.

The United Way of Hastings began a financial empowerment campaign as part of its theme of Building a Better Hastings. The five pigs, all decorated in a way that represents their sponsors, will be displayed around town.

Mari Mellick, the executive director of United Way of Hastings, said that the pigs bring attention to financial empowerment and act as a visibility piece for that topic.

"We wanted to bring something out in the community that most people don't really talk about that much and that is finances," Mellick said.

The financial empowerment campaign began Sept. 1 and Merrick said that it will continue through the month of December. The pigs will promote financial empowerment through their visibility around the community whether that is while they are located down by the river, in a local business, at an event or at the business that is sponsoring them.

Financial empowerment is about feeling control of finances and having the capacity to absorb a financial shock, make financial goals and be on track to meet those goals. Mellick said that UWH took on the financial empowerment campaign because it is something that is affecting Hastings, the state and the country.

The five sponsors of this year's pigs include BreakAway Arts Center, Hastings Star Gazette, United Way of Hastings, Second Childhood Toys and Artspace Hastings River Lofts.

Mellick said that the UWH hopes to continue the financial empowerment campaign and see it grow next year. She said that she hopes to see more pigs in the group next year.

In addition to the campaign, UWH has been working with Dakota County's financial empowerment services. The county offers free counseling services for Dakota County residents. Scheduling priority is given to residents who are experiencing a financial hardship.

For more information and for financial empowerment resources visit the United Way of Hastings website at

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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