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COVID-19 prompts United Way Campaign Kickoff move to TV
United Way

RINCON — Just like football, United Way of the Coastal Empire (UWCE) is going to have a kickoff despite COVID-19.

UCWE is set to start its annual fundraising campaign in virtual fashion Thursday.

“We are doing a roadblock with the three local (TV) news stations (WJCL, WSAV and WTOC),” said Elizabeth Waters, UWCE-Effingham County area director. “All will share our story at 5:30 p.m.”

Under normal circumstances in face-to-face setting, Waters would introduce the key figures in the UWCE fundraising campaign. The 2021 edition is being led by Cecilia Russo Turner, president and CEO of Cecila Russo Turner Marketing in Savannah.

“I have been involved with United Way for many years through volunteerism, advocacy and as a donor, well before serving as a board member,” Russo Turner said. “I agreed to be the campaign vice chair for 2020 in the winter months of 2019, long before our world changed as we know it (because of COVID-19). While there were many challenges in 2020, I came away from that campaign further prepared and inspired to take on this role for 2021.” 

Before thea advent of COVID-19, Waters would also introduce the Effingham County Campaign Committee at a public event. The local committee is led by Chair Chance Ward, pastor of Goshen Road United Methodist Church, and LaMeisha Hunter Kelly, executive director, Strategic Business Development and Governmental Relations at Effingham Health System.

The 2021 Effingham County Campaign’s ambassadors are Georgia-Pacific employees Mayah Booker and Joseph Douberly.

UWCE, which also serves Bryan, Chatham and Liberty counties, has been improving lives in Effingham County for more than 30 years by partnering with local nonprofits, faith leaders and community collaboratives to provide safety net programs and services. It uses the money it collects to support 54 agencies that are on the front line battling complex social problems at the local level, including poverty, hunger, abuse and health concerns.

Direct services include information and referrals to community resources, emergency financial assistance, transporation assistance, literacy programs, handicapped-accessible ramps and medical equipment lending library.

The 2021 campaign slogan is “Forward United.”

“What we do in life truly matters,” Ward said. “Someone, somewhere, is depending on you or me to be an example of service, generosity, kindness, compassion, love, or hope. It is part of our vocation to give of ourselves on behalf of others. Many have done it for us, now it is our turn to pay it forward.”

Hunter-Kelly added, “We are blessed when we can be a blessing to others.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to the Herschel V. Jenkins Trust Fund and other income, most of the operating expenses of UWCE-Effingham County are covered, allowing more donor contributions to go where they’re most needed in service to the community. 

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