RINCON — United Way of the Coastal Empire-Effingham County's annual fund-raising campaign isn't really about money. It is about people — and that is the message that volunteers used to help the organization exceed its 2018 goal of $348,000.
During a Nov. 28 victory celebration at the United Way Service Center on Zitterour Road, Campaign Chairman Ryan Waters and Vice Chairman Lisa Saxon announced that a record $414,532 was raised.
"You guys truly set the bar," said Deb Thompson, UCWE's president and CEO. "There has been a long history of success in Effingham County campaigns but this year you took it to a new level under (UCWE-Effingham County Executive Director Elise Zielicke's) leadership, Ryan as the campaign chair and Rome (Edwards) and Marti (Ward). The energy, enthusiasm and determination were incredible.
"I think that's why you achieved the results that you did."
Businesses provided several campaign highlights, including new givers Perdue Foods, Lineage Logistics and New Life Flowers & Gifts. The biggest givers were Georgia Power-Plant McIntosh ($10,316), Kroger Marketplace-Rincon ($30,212), Effingham County Board of Education ($86, 285) and Georgia Pacific Savannah River Mill ($238,037).
Reiser & Reiser CPAs donated $3,000 despite having just five employees.
Edwards and Ward, Georgia Pacific employees, persuaded 31 new Effingham County businesses to join the United Way cause. Both agreed it was a task they relished.
"Marti and I have a love of people," Edwards said.
"It's just building that relationship, just reaching out," Ward added. "Once you get somebody to start giving, they will continue to give."
Edwards and Ward don't use high-pressure tactics.
We start out small with them," Ward said. "We don't ask for a lot, just whatever they are comfortable with."
Their best selling point is explaining how United Way assists people in Effingham County.
""When Marti and I tell people what United Way offers, nine times out of ten they realize they have been through something or know someone who has been through something that United Way could have helped them with," Edwards said.
Ward mentioned a recent encounter she had with a woman who couldn't afford mediation for psoriasis and was forced to wear gloves on her hand.
"She didn't have insurance so I asked her to come talk to us to get help. Now she is in the process of doing that," Ward said. "I want people to benefit from the funds we raise."
To find out more about the UCWE-Effingham County, call (912) 826-5326.