The annual United Way Campaign began last Thursday, and each year, the goal is bigger than the year before.
"Actually our goal is $110,000, which is a 10 percent increase over the prior year," said Charles Bellmann, the executive director of United Way of McDuffie and Warren Counties.
Last year's goal was $100,000, and the year before that was $90,000. In each instance, Mr. Bellmann said the goal was met or exceeded. Donations have been up since 2004, when only $70,000 came in.
"We've got a lot of support that we didn't have before from local industries and the private sector," said Bob Flanders, the president of the Thomson Kiwanis Club.
United Way is an international non-profit organization that improves lives in local communities by gathering donated funds from individuals, businesses, clubs and organizations and distributing to agencies that benefit the needy.
According to Mr. Bellmann, 78 percent of the money raised comes from automatic payroll deductions. Mr. Bellmann said the top businesses with employees that contribute in the local area are the McDuffie County Board of Education, Shaw Industries, Advanced Auto Parts, United Postal Service, the City of Thomson and McDuffie County. Civic groups such as Rotarians and Kiwanians also contribute 35 percent.
Mr. Bellmann stressed that 92 percent of the funds raised stays here in the local area benefiting Agape Outreach Ministries, American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club of Thomson, Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council, CSRA Girl Scout Council, McDuffie County 4-H, GA-TASC, Golden Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Horsefeathers Therapeutic Riding, MANNA, McDuffie County Special Olympics, Partners For Success, Salvation Army-McDuffie County Unit, Sand Hills Psychoeducational Center, Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services.
In December, Mr. Bellmann said a budget committee will sit down and review the programs of each agency to decide on a recommendation to the Executive Committee for the allocations in 2007. Prior to the campaign kick-off, an estimate of funds needed was received from each agency to determine the goal amount of funds to raise.
United Way Executive Committee members are Chairman Ron Shipman, Treasurer Dot Knox, Riley Stamey, Bob Wilson, Jr., and George Lokey.
The campaign will run through Jan. 15, 2007.