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United Way helping families of refinery explosion victims
02.28 echs blood drive 1
Cassie Stivers, left, and John Wells, right, let the blood flow during a blood drive at Effingham County High School on Tuesday. More than 150 people signed up to give blood at the ECHS drive. For Stivers, the donation was her second. Wells, a VIP donor, has given 19 pints of blood. Blood drives and other activities have been ongoing since the Feb. 7 explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

United Way of the Coastal Empire is set to help victims and their families who are affected by the fire at Imperial Sugar through the “Sugar Refinery Family Support Fund.”  

To fill out the application to receive financial assistance, individuals must go to First Baptist Church of Port Wentworth located on Highway 25 North, Port Wentworth, this week, Thursday from 2–6 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The location will be open next Monday thru Friday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  

Case workers from American Red Cross and Salvation Army will be available on site to help determine individuals’ immediate needs and if they are eligible to receive assistance from the fund.

Thereafter, applications can be made by directly contacting American Red Cross at (912) 651-5321 or Salvation Army at (912) 651-7120 to schedule an appointment.

The Sugar Refinery Family Support Fund will be used to help those affected by the disaster pay for medical supplies, utilities, mortgage or rent, food, transportation and other critical needs.  

United Way has set up a committee to review the process for providing payments from the fund to ensure the highest standards of accountability.  Members of the committee include a representative from Imperial Sugar, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Colonial Oil, community volunteers and the United Way.

As of Feb. 27, the United Way’s Sugar Refinery Family Support Fund collected over $600,000 from individuals and corporations, with the most recent donation coming from the Atlanta Gas Light in the amount of $5,000.

The fund is continuing to accept donations. Donors may send checks to United Way of the Coastal Empire earmarked “Sugar Refinery Family Support Fund.”  One hundred percent of contributions will go to help affected victims and their families.

Credit card donations may be made by calling (912) 651-7701 or by mailing a check or money order payable to United Way of the Coastal Empire with “Sugar Refinery Family Support Fund” in the memo line to: United Way of the Coastal Empire, 428 Bull St., Savannah, GA 31401.

The Augusta community has been providing meals for families in the waiting rooms.

“We are grateful for the initial response we had from churches and organizations, but the interest has waned somewhat,” said Jerry Woods, president of the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation. “There is still a great need, not only for food but also for volunteers.”

To reach the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, call (706) 650-2876.