The annual United Way Campaign is off to a good start in McDuffie County. At the kickoff meeting last week, Executive Director Charles Bellmann said some participating businesses already have given more than the previous year.
"We have had some real good reports already," Mr. Bellmann said. "I had no idea so many people from this area work over at Savannah River Site, and they just gave me a check for over $11,000."
The money received from SRS was counted along with money from McDuffie County Board of Education -- which Mr. Bellmann said raised 10 percent more than last year -- to fill some red coloring in the thermometer on the sign on Main Street in Thomson.
Chairman of the Board George Lokey announced the 2009 campaign goal is $130,000 as he, Mr. Bellmann and other directors unveiled the campaign sign.
"United Way is one of those things in the community that goes along with the hospital, airport, school system and the cooperative governments that make McDuffie County a good place to live, a good place to work and a good place to play," Mr. Lokey said. "It helps all of our citizens."
United Way is an international, nonprofit organization that improves lives in local communities by gathering donated funds and distributing them to agencies that benefit the needy.
According to Mr. Bellmann, almost all money raised comes from automatic payroll deductions. Even if the employees work in another county, they are able to designate the money to benefit the county where they live.
Mr. Bellmann said the top businesses with employees that contribute in the local area are the McDuffie County Board of Education, Shaw Industries, Milsco Manufacturing, Advanced Auto Parts, United Postal Service, the city of Thomson and McDuffie County. Civic groups such as the Thomson Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club also provide "major assistance," Mr. Bellmann said.
Ninety-two percent of the funds raised stays in the local area benefiting the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club of Thomson, Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council, CSRA Girl Scout Council, Family Y, Golden Harvest Food Bank, MANNA, McDuffie County 4-H, McDuffie County Special Olympics, GA-TASC, Partners For Success, Salvation Army -- McDuffie County Unit, Sand Hills Psychoeducational Center and Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services.
Three of those agencies have expanded programs this year: MANNA is in a new building on East Hill Street, the Boys and Girls Club built a teen facility and the Family Y has a new facility on Main Street for youth activities.
The United Way campaign runs from Oct. 7 through Nov. 27. Grants will be awarded to agencies in early January.
Anyone wishing to donate may contact Mr. Bellmann at (706) 597-8370, or by mail at P.O. Box 87, Thomson, GA 30824.