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We Are Better Together

United Way Kicks Off 2021 Campaign:

Goal of Raising $550,000 by

November 18

The United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties kicked off its annual campaign a little differently this year. Because of the health pandemic, the 2021 campaign chairs Kathy Sikes and Melissa Bruce addressed their audience virtually in a community-wide broadcast on September 21; but they were not deterred by the unusual protocol. There was still a lot of enthusiasm that this year’s goal of $550,000 will be reached by the campaign’s close on November 18. United Way Director Patricia Dixon said volunteers have already been hard at work encouraging contributions to the organization to meet the community’s unique needs during the COVID- 19 crisis. “In addition to the everyday needs of our community which United Way normally addresses— from helping with food and shelter to medical services— a number of new needs have surfaced directly because of the health crisis. We have had a huge increase in requests for everything from supplying masks to assisting people in getting to medical visits.” That is why the United Way has launched its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which offers services, supplies and equipment to clients and to those who provide the services. Sikes emphasized that this is the year of “everyday heroes,” those who are on the front lines in offering medical care. “This is the time for United Way to step outside the box and care for those who serve the community.” She added that 25% to 30% of the community lives in poverty and their lives have been further complicated by the virus.

Among those who have already been working to build the campaign coffers are the Pace Setters who, when the campaign was launched, had already raised $117,700 or 21.4% of the 2021 campaign goal. Pledges came in from Vidalia City Schools, $15,000; Chicken of the Sea, $20,000; Toombs County Schools, $10,000; and DOT Foods, $28,000. This year’s campaign sponsors are Ameris Bank, Phillips Pharmacy, State Farm Insurance—Kailey Dees, the Vidalia Kiwanis Club, and the Vidalia Rotary Club. Overall sponsors are The Advance; Altamaha EMC; Chicken of the Sea; Cintas; Community Hospice; DOT Foods; Georgia Power; Lark Builders; Macky Bryant; Meadows Health; McLain, Calhoun, McCullough, Clark Co.; Oxford; The Temples Company; Towns Funeral Home; Vidalia Communications; and Vidalia Federal Savings Bank. Corporate sponsors are Southeastern Tech and John M. Berry. Mega sponsors are Paul Thigpen, Peoples Bank, Plant Hatch/Southern Company, Tar Land & Timber, and Trane. Campaign teams are: Building, Trades and Utilities, Bill Torrance and Greg Hudgens; Education and Public Service, Duane Tomlin, Travis Absher, Kathy Sikes, Garrett Wilcox, Barry Waller, Hugh Kight and Suzanne Couey; Finance, Brent Sammons; Medical Professional, Darren McClullum, Tisha Holland, Brandy Sikes, Candace McDade, Mandy Corden, James Nixon and Rachel Crumpler; Industrial, Sheri Keene, Sheena Troup and Gaylon Ryan; Retail, Ralph Goethe; Special Events, Valerie McClendon and Heather Mead; Special Gifts, Linda Eason; Power of the Purse, Lucy Whigham, Membership Chair for UW; Dancing for the Stars co-chairs, Kelly Stuckless and Karen Brantley; Highlanders, Barry Dotson and Brian Sikes.

UW Board of Directors: Gary Meredith, Thomas Bower, Sheri Keene, Ann Todd, Lee Evans, Garrett Wilcox, Jake Cleghorn, Suzanne Couey, Teresa Herrera, Hugh Kight, Barry Waller, Brent Sammons, Tim Truxell, Debbie Kittrell, Chad Richie, Anthony Miller and James Nixon.

United Way agencies: American Red Cross, Boy Scouts Coastal, Boys & Girls Club, Community Men in Action, Concerted Services, Inc., Family Interventions, God’s Storehouse, Montgomery County Senior Citizens’ Center, Open Doors to the Handicapped, Paul Anderson Youth Home, Rachel’s House, Salvation Army, Southeast Georgia Communities Project, Sunshine House, The Mercy Clinic, The Refuge, TLC CASA; Toombs Service Center PADD; and Wheeler County Senior Citizens’ Center.

Beginning this week The Advance will begin running profiles of the 19 agencies supported by United Way.

Since 1988, United Way’s idea of community-based fundraising has helped to give hope to local people looking for leadership to make the right choices. This year’s campaign slogan is, “We are better together.”

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