United Way campaign sets record

brantin@thestate.comFebruary 5, 2013 

  • A celebration of generosity United Way of the Midlands will hold its final campaign event this evening at The Marriott, 1200 Hampton St., Columbia. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program and awards ceremony begin at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and will include light snacks and refreshments.

Efforts to provide housing, tutoring and other services to Midlands residents in need have received one the biggest boosts ever.

The United Way of the Midlands will announce its largest fundraising campaign total in history this evening during a celebration at The Marriott.

Still at 99 percent of the 2012-2013 goal, the $10,250,000 collected so far is the highest total ever, topping last year’s total of $10,224,000. United Way officials say the numbers are especially promising given the economic challenges of recent years.

“Going through tough times makes you reflect on what you do have. We are blessed and need to give back to the community,” said Sharon Bryant of First Citizens Bank and this year’s campaign co-chair.

Money raised through the annual campaign supports Midlands charities and organizations. But rather than funding agencies, the United Way allocates funds based on how well specific programs serve a targeted set of community needs.

Some of the United Way’s ongoing and recent initiatives include the Midlands Reading Consortium, the Homelessness and Housing program and Mission 2012, which provided free medical assistance to nearly 3,000 uninsured residents last fall at the State Fairgrounds.

This year’s campaign got off to a fast start with the help of 55 “Pacesetter” companies that raised $4.4 million through early workplace campaigns. That start was boosted by an increase in donations from several companies including SCANA, Kraft Foods and First Citizens Bank.

Columbia College, Columbia International University, Midlands Technical College, South University and Virginia College also increased their giving percentages.

The United Way works to identify and respond to critical human service needs in Richland, Lexington, Calhoun, Fairfield, Newberry and Orangeburg counties. Funds are raised through workplace campaigns, grants and individual donations.

And while maintaining a strong fundraising arm, the United Way has continued to emphasize volunteerism as a significant component of community service. Last fall’s Day of Action was the largest ever as more than 700 volunteers served at 50 nonprofit agencies.

“It not only allowed the associates to work together outside of their normal setting, but also exposed them to the work of United Way,” said Bridgett Molony, United Way volunteer center manager.

The United Way campaign officially continues through June. To contribute, visit www. uway.org/give, or call Mike Gray at (803) 733-5422 to arrange a workplace campaign.

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