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United Way shows it has the power
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John Kieffer, as one of the Power Raisers, unveils the total for the United Way of Effingham Countys annual campaign. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The United Way of Effingham County kicked off its 2013 fundraising campaign Wednesday with a powerful message to the community.

Playing off a popular group of costumed heroes, the “Power Raisers” unveiled a goal of $310,075 for the Effingham campaign at a luncheon at the Effingham College and Career Academy.

“And now, Effingham County, you have the power!” emcee John Wetherbee exclaimed after the numbers were revealed.

The campaign, which runs through Nov. 22, raises money for 25 organizations and programs that provide a variety of services to people in Effingham County.

United Way Effingham Area Director Bonnie Dixon called the $310,075 goal “very ambitious,” but attainable. Last year, the United Way of Effingham County raised its largest amount ever — $343,007, far exceeding its goal of $302,007.

“Fortunately, and I say this out of respect and thanks to the community, we’ve always met our goal and surpassed it,” Dixon said. “I have that faith and hope that it’s going to happen this year as well.”

The “Power Raisers” theme is a nod to Georgia Power’s Dale Holloway, this year’s campaign chair for the United Way of the Coastal Empire. Heading up Effingham’s campaign are chair John Kieffer and vice chair Taryn Knick.

“I think we’re going to have a great year,” Kieffer said. “Effingham has always been so supportive of United Way. They just go out of their way to help anybody in need and what the United Way does.”

The Effingham campaign is already at 26 percent of its goal, thanks to a pair of corporate “pacesetters” that conducted their United Way campaigns prior to the official kickoff. Effingham County School System employees pledged $71,116 and Georgia Power employees pledged $11,386.

Two Effingham County schools received special recognition for their contributions. The Effingham College and Career Academy earned the Caring Cup Award as the school with the highest per-capita giving, and Effingham County Middle School received the Chairman’s Award for having the largest increase in giving from last year.

Superintendent Randy Shearouse praised school system employees’ commitment to helping the United Way. Though each school has it loyalties — especially this week for the inter-county showdowns on the softball and football fields — he credited the district with being “united” in its support.

“Everyone comes together,” Shearouse said. “We always join together in raising money for the United Way.”

United Way agencies help address a number of community issues, such as hunger, homelessness, unemployment and abuse. Everyone in the community likely knows someone who has been helped in some way by a United Way agency, Kieffer said.

“There are so many of them that serve Effingham,” he said, “and it’s all age groups — infants, children, adults, senior citizens …. Somebody in every age group is touched by the United Way.”

The United Way will visit any local business interested in the fundraising campaign and give a 15-minute presentation to its employees. Any donation of any amount is welcomed.

“Give whatever you can,” Kieffer said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s one dollar or a thousand dollars — every dollar counts and every dollar helps someone in need.”

Representatives from Effingham’s United Way agencies introduced themselves to the crowd and exclaimed, “We have the power!” A few added their agency’s own personal touch to it.

“We have the horse power!” declared Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center CEO Bonnie Rachael.

“We have girl power!” asserted Margaret Skene, director of the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia.

“We have the communication power!” proclaimed Beth Larrimore, executive director of Savannah Speech and Hearing.

Dixon reiterated that people across Effingham have the power to make this year’s campaign a success.

“This community never ceases to amaze me on what they’re capable of doing,” she said. “It’s such a sincere community. They are dedicated. It comes from their hearts.”

To schedule a campaign presentation, or for more information about the campaign or any United Way services, call the United Way Effingham Service Center at 826-5300.