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Making wishes come true
United Way sets its campaign goal
United Way of Effingham County campaign workers show off this year’s goal of $270,000. The United Way smashed last year’s target of $260,000. - photo by Photo by Calli Arnold
There was magic in the air as familiar faces from United Way of Effingham and its board dressed as fairies and leprechauns at Thursday’s campaign kickoff where they revealed a $270,000 goal for their 2010 fundraising season.
After clicking their heals at the end of last year’s campaign, where the $260,000 goal was eclipsed by more than $30,000, campaign and advisory board members set their sights $10,000 higher under the enchanted theme “Making Wishes Come True.” 
“Over the years, I have seen a lot of dreams come true with United Way, our community has seen a lot of dreams come true,” said Bonnie Dixon, executive director for United Way of Effingham. “And I believe they understand that in order to continue the tradition of helping people in our community, we have to have the funds to do that.” 
United Way of the Coastal Empire, which includes Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties, announced its four-county goal of $8,000,000
Wednesday. Of the 100 programs receiving funds from UWCE, 29 are housed in Effingham County. Each of those 29 agencies and programs, including Treutlen House, Med Bank, LIFE Inc., and YMCA, were on-hand in booths throughout the Effingham Recreation and Parks Department Gym to explain its service during the kickoff lunch. 
In light of the campaign’s theme, United Way of Effingham asked folks their wishes for their community and themselves. Those responses, pulled from a “wishing well,” were read aloud, and they included: access to more food, to have a job, to have a drug-free community more services for disabled adults, and more volunteering from the community.
UWCE campaign chairperson Camille Russo, sparkling in her Tinker Bell ensemble, said that she was not surprised that most of the responses from the wishing well were for the community.
“Because that’s what you do. You in Effingham are a leader. Our United Way of the Coastal Empire serves four counties, but I can tell you that I am here with the leaders of our campaign,” Russo said. 
“… People are still hurting, but when the economy is still questionable, like it is now, what that means is that instead of things getting better, or needs getting fewer, needs are greater.”
The 12-week campaign is already off to a great start with Georgia Power and the Effingham County Board of Education as the Effingham Pacesetter companies taking pledges prior to today’s kickoff. The school system exceeded its own goal by $10,000 for a total of $70,000 in pledges and
Georgia Power’s Springfield office and Plant McIntosh brought in more than $17,580, with all Georgia Power employees in the Coastal Empire raising more than $175,000. 
Dixon said that in addition to working with companies and employees, they plan to have a silent auction Oct.12 with items such as a football signed by Joe Namath and a Kyle Petty jacket. She said that because 100 percent of the funds raised go directly to the programs United Way sponsors, donors will “get a big bang out of your buck.”
“It’s going to take this community pulling together like it does with every other effort and situation that they’re faced with,” Dixon said.