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Priceless Gifts strikes family theme
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Darren Thomas gets the Effingham YMCA’s Priceless Gifts campaign kicked off early Thursday morning at the Effingham Y. The YMCA has set a goal of $55,000 for this year’s Priceless Gifts. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The motto of Ohana is at the heart of the YMCA’s Priceless Gifts campaign, drive organizers said Thursday morning.

The Effingham Y kicked off its annual Priceless Gifts drive, setting a goal of $55,000. Proceeds from Priceless Gifts go to support the Y’s programs and make sure that those who want to take part in them can do so.

“The Y is more than a gym,” said Darren Thomas, campaign chairman and minister of education at First Baptist Church of Springfield. “We’re about building the whole person. We need for the community to see that every little bit helps.”

Ohana is Polynesian for family and the Priceless Gifts campaign slogan means no one is left behind, Thomas said.

“No one is turned away because of their ability to pay,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone can come to the Y.”

In 2008, the Effingham Y served 490 people through Priceless Gifts contributions. That number shot up to 855 last year.

Of the money raised through Priceless Gifts, 35 percent was directed to memberships, 26 percent went toward day camp and 25 percent went toward child care. The Y on Wheels program received 12 percent of last year’s campaign contributions.

“It’s critical,” Thomas said of the campaign. “Just like any organization, we need not just financial support. There are programs that would be hurt that would affect youth, adults and seniors if we didn’t keep going.”

But he’s confident the YMCA will reach its goal.

“This Y wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the generosity of the community,” Thomas said. “This is here because the community said, ‘we need it and we see the value.’ When they give to Priceless Gifts, they’re also investing into a better Effingham County for the future.”

The campaign will end with a luau on May 21 at the Effingham YMCA. To help with the Priceless Gifts campaign, call the YMCA at 826-2199.