COLUMBIA CITY — Nearly 200 people attended the United Way of Whitley County’s Power of the Purse event last week at the Eagle Glen Event Center, raising money for Kindergarten Countdown.

Last year was the first year for the program, which was piloted in Whitley County Consolidated Schools. Funded by the United Way of Whitley County, Kindergarten Countdown has the potential to grow and expand to help more children each year as they begin a lifetime of learning.

The Power of the Purse event will featured designer purse raffles, dinner, camaraderie — and an exciting evening for all.

“Many of our Power of the Purse committee members are mothers and they know the value of giving children a solid start when it comes to education,” said Cindy Baker, executive director of the United Way of Whitley County. “That is why they are so passionate about making sure every child in our community, regardless of economic challenges, has an opporunity start school with the resources and preparation they need to be successful.”

Last July, 33 students went to school for the first time — participating in circle time, story time and small group activities. They ate lunch, went to recess and learned what it was like to go to school two weeks before their peers. They made friends, met teachers and began building their foundation for learning.

Through this unique program, Kindergarten Countdown, students have an opportunity to become comfortable with school, the expectations and the environment before their real first day of class begins.