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Powering up

POSTED: November 21, 2013 8:02 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Effingham campaign vice chair Taryn Knick, joined by United Way of Effingham maintenance manager Ken Beale, pulls a prize-winning ticket in the raffle to raise money for this year’s campaign. In the background are the impromptu revisions to the United Way’s fundraising target after a donation from the Citizens of Georgia Power put the Effingham campaign over its goal.

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A good Christmas awaits Ashley Boyette’s husband Tommy.

It will be an even better one for the United Way of Effingham County.

Boyette won a raffle for a prize she said her husband will receive for Christmas, but the bigger news of the day was the United Way topping this year’s fundraising goal for Effingham County.

Thanks in part to an 11th-hour donation from the Citizens of Georgia Power, the United Way of Effingham County surpassed its goal of $310,075 in pledges. The campaign concludes today with the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s victory celebration in Savannah.

"It is awesome to know that the community supports United Way, which also means that they understand what we do and they appreciate the services that we provide to the citizens here," said United Way Effingham Area Director Bonnie Dixon.

As the final pledges continue to trickle in, the campaign total is up to $318,566. Funding for United Way supports 25 organizations and programs that provide a variety of services in Effingham County.

"Every dollar we raise goes straight back into the community and helps the people who need it most," said Effingham campaign vice chair Taryn Knick. "Our community has always rallied together to show their support for the United Way and help us reach our goal, and this year was no exception."

However, they did cut it a little close.

On the day before its advisory board’s November meeting, the Effingham United Way was still short of its goal. However, a surprise donation pushed them over the top.

The Citizens of Georgia Power, a community service arm of the electric utility, presented a $5,000 check toward the Effingham County campaign.

"It was truly a lifesaver," Dixon said. "We were fearful that we weren’t going to make goal this year. It was that close."

The check presentation turned the board meeting into an impromptu celebration. To reflect the just-surpassed goal, Dixon printed numbers on white office paper and placed them on top of the large, red "310,075" numerals posted at the United Way center.

"This is money that we had not counted on," Dixon said of the Citizens of Georgia Power donation. "We had never received this money before.

"I think there was some answered prayer there."

Also at the meeting, the United Way drew the winners of four prizes — including a 50-inch television donated by Badcock — from its raffle to raise money for the campaign. The raffle brought in more than $2,000 according to Dixon.

The prizes also included a Samsung Galaxy tablet donated by Walmart and a $200 Enmark card. Boyette took home a Yeti cooler, much to her surprise.

"Oh my gosh, I am so excited. I’ve never won anything before," Boyette said when she picked up her prize, which was given by an anonymous donor.

Boyette said her husband has wanted one of the heavy-duty Yeti coolers for a while, so she will surprise him with it for Christmas. Now she just needs to keep the cooler — and today’s newspaper — from his sight.

"This is so great. He’s going to flip," she said.

This year marked the 30th anniversary campaign for the United Way of Effingham County. The first campaign in 1983 raised a little more than $5,000 — and Effingham’s goal has continued to be met every year since.

"It’s something to be said for a community that has always made goal," Dixon said. "Not a lot of United Ways can say that."

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