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Meridian Foundation pitches in for Habitat for Humanity

POSTED: March 14, 2013 8:11 p.m.
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The Meridian Foundation makes its initial contribution, of $1,000, to Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County. Pictured are, left to right, Habitat of Effingham founder Morris Oglesby, Meridian Foundation program director Brett Edwards, Effingham Habitat director Jimmy Rutland and Meridian Foundation president Will Black.

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Helping Habitat for Humanity is in Brett Edwards’ blood.

His grandfather, Morris Oglesby, founded Habitat’s Effingham County chapter in 1996. At 90 years old, Oglesby is still active in Habitat for Humanity projects, even helping with the construction of Habitat houses.

"He has a passion for helping families living in sub-standard homes," Edwards said. "He has dedicated his life to helping people find a home and live in it."

Edwards is doing his part by raising money for Habitat through the Meridian Foundation. Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County recently received its first contribution from the foundation, of $1,000.

"My grandfather is not a man of many words. He’s a man of action," Edwards said. "When I told him that I was going to help out, he said, ‘Good, we need it.’"

The Meridian Foundation began in Savannah and recently added the Effingham Habitat chapter to the organizations it supports throughout the Southeast. Edwards plans for that $1,000 check to be just the beginning.

The Meridian Foundation supports charities and non-profit organizations by pairing them with local businesses that want to help. The businesses make donations through fees they’re already paying, at no additional cost to them.

"We work to raise money for their groups that doesn’t come off (the businesses’) bottom line," explained Meridian Foundation president and founder Will Black. "We show them any number of fees they’re paying out to numerous organizations where there is a lot of fat. We help redirect it — legally — and it goes to their charity of choice."

The automatic designation of funds means business owners never actually have to open their wallets to make the contributions. It is an added convenience for businesses as they are frequently solicited for donations in the community.

"The real beauty of the program is that these businesses get to help families and Habitat for Humanity without writing a check," said George Groce, development director for Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County.

The program is sustainable for years, Black said. As long as a business remains in operation, it can continue to support its charity through the Meridian Foundation.

"The trick is to add more businesses," Black said, "so that (the charities) get a thousand dollars a quarter and then they get a thousand dollars a month. We have charities that get $4,000 and $5,000 a month. They’re very happy."

The funds for Meridian’s initial $1,000 contribution to the Effingham Habitat chapter came from Wiley’s Home Center, Salon 21 and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Edwards said. He hopes several other Effingham County businesses will get on board, especially since Habitat needs about $60,000 each time it builds a house.

"There is a lot of room in Effingham for local businesses to embrace this and help support Habitat," Edwards said.

"We’d love to see them get 5, 10 grand a month, while helping people with houses," Black said.

While Edwards is passionate about Habitat, potential donors might have other causes that are close to their hearts. They are welcome to support any of the Meridian Foundation’s partner charities.

"Habitat was why I got involved with the Meridian Foundation," Edwards said, "but it’s also been a launch pad for me to help other people as well. Anybody who wants help with their charity, that’s what we’re here to do with the Meridian Foundation."

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