The United Way of Effingham County served an average of nearly 5,200 people per month in 2014, according to its annual report released last week.
Programs funded by the United Way or offered at the Effingham Service Center assisted an average of 5,195 people per month last year, a jump from 2013’s monthly average of 4,828. United Way funding supports 24 organizations and programs that provide a variety of services in Effingham County.
Volunteers logged more than 7,200 hours at the Service Center in 2014, according to the report. The United Way gave special thanks to five volunteers who each put in more than 100 hours of service — Kristi Hansen, Albert Jernigan, Cari Klutzke, Cristina Larson and Amy Quick.
“It’s all about partnering and working together,” said United Way Effingham Area Director Bonnie Dixon. “No one can do it all.”
The Effingham United Way set a new high of $354,069 in its annual fundraising campaign, according to Dixon. The campaign total topped Effingham’s previous best of $343,007 in 2012.
Dixon thanked campaign chair Taryn Knick and vice chair Andy Lamon, saying they “tirelessly gave countless hours” throughout the weeks of fundraising. Also, Lamon and the church he pastors, Gateway Community Church, produced the Effingham United Way’s first campaign video.
“I can’t wait to see this year’s campaign,” Knick said.
Lamon, who will lead the campaign, announced this year’s theme will be “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The campaign will kick off Sept. 9.
‘Operation Thank You’
The Effingham United Way recognized several businesses and organizations that donated the highest amounts to the campaign or had the highest increases from the previous year in giving or employee participation.
Topping the list was the Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill, which contributed $176,323. G-P hosted several fundraisers, including bake sales, cookouts and a car show.
“If you want some ideas on how to spark up your employee campaign, these are the experts,” Dixon said. “They have some events that build employee camaraderie and friendship and teamwork. They just do an excellent job of it.”
Another large donor was the Effingham County School System. The contributions from the central office and each school totaled $82,606.
“Per capita, our Effingham County Board of Education gives more than Chatham County,” Dixon said.
Other major donors that helped put the Effingham United Way over its 2014 campaign goal were: Effingham Health System, $15,641; Georgia Power, $15,298; Effingham County government, $10,000; Rincon Walmart, $8,758; Edwards Interiors, $6,284; and Rincon Kroger, $6,100.
Dixon lauded Kroger’s campaign as “a great increase. It was almost double what they did the year before.”
While some local businesses might be categorized as “small,” their contributions to the campaign weren’t. Dixon pointed to the $2,617 donation from Ardry Trading Company, a small company in the industrial park.
“They don’t even wait on us to show up with the brochures and the materials,” Dixon said. “They just download everything from the campaign site and do their own campaign.”
That has been the case since Ardry’s first campaign, Dixon recalled. The United Way didn’t know the company was conducting an employee campaign until it had concluded.
“They called and said, ‘You want to come by and pick up like $3,500? We had 100-percent participation,’” Dixon said. “Are you kidding me?”
The United Way also thanked the city of Rincon for its $3,055 donation and Southern Motors in Springfield for its $2,366 contribution.