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Banner day for United Way
Georgia-Pacific helps push annual campaign over the top
final number 1
United Way of the Coastal Empire president Gregg Schroeder, far right, celebrates the announcement that the Effingham County office exceeded its 2014 fundraising goal. Also pictured are United Way of Effinghams Bonnie Dixon, Julie Dickey, Ken Beale, Destiny Wright-Bradshaw and Regina Brown-Gerrald, and Georgia-Pacifics loaned associates for the campaign, Stephen Roddenberry and Brandee Gordon. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill employees are giving a lot to the community, and having a lot of fun doing it.

With Georgia-Pacific accounting for more than half of the contribution, United Way of Effingham County has surpassed its 2014 fundraising campaign goal.

At $341,883 and counting, United Way of Effingham has far exceeded this year’s target of $317,000. Of that, the G-P Savannah River Mill has contributed $174,450.

“It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of campaigning,” said Dan Pennings of Georgia-Pacific, adding the fundraising also is “a lot of fun.”

In conjunction with G-P’s employee pledge campaign for United Way, the Savannah River Mill hosted several fundraisers, including bake sales, cookouts and a car show.

“We’re really excited about the efforts and involvement from all the people at the facility. Everybody gets involved,” Pennings said.

“Every industry that gives to United Way or is considering giving needs to look at the Georgia-Pacific example,” said United Way Effingham Area Director Bonnie Dixon. “It’s all in-house. Their own employees solicit their own employees. We don’t go in. They carry our message, and they do it in a fabulous way.”

The United Way campaign continues through Friday. As the final donations trickle in, the Effingham United Way likely will top its previous best of $343,007 in 2012, according to Dixon.

Several other donors helped put the United Way over its goal, including: the Effingham County School System, $82,436; Effingham Health System, $14,945; Georgia Power, $14,798; Effingham County government, $10,007; Walmart, $8,758; Edwards Interiors, $6,284; and Kroger, $6,100.

One reason United Way campaigns are so successful at Georgia-Pacific and other businesses, according to Dixon, is that many employees have been helped directly or know someone who has been helped by a United Way agency or program.

“So they’re speaking from the heart,” Dixon said.

“We hear a lot about all these programs and the results for people in the area,” said Pennings, who also serves on the Effingham United Way advisory board. “People know people affected by United Way: ‘They put a ramp up at my house’ or ‘my daughter is having a tough time, but they got food from the food pantry.’ The word gets around.”

United Way funding supports 24 organizations and programs in Effingham County. The services range from providing food or clothing to those in need, to helping people earn their GED or find a job and become self-sufficient.

“We’re not just here at campaign time; we’re here 12 months out of the year,” Dixon said. “Even during the campaign, we’re still doing our usual work and helping people. And I think we get stronger every year.”

Pennings credited Georgia-Pacific campaign co-leaders Derrik Kessler and Joel Youngblood with being “very energetic and doing a really good job.” The Savannah River Mill also provided Brandee Gordon and Stephen Roddenberry to the United Way as volunteer leaders for the Effingham campaign.

Georgia-Pacific employees enjoyed the campaign so much, Pennings said, that they aren’t ready for it to end. In fact, it might be G-P that donates those last dollars to set a new record campaign total in Effingham County.

“It gets exciting,” Pennings said of the campaign. “We had a meeting yesterday, and they’re all actually kind of sad it’s coming to an end. It’s like, ‘Let’s continue. Let’s keep going.’”