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United Way campaign off to a fast start
Bob Oliff, the executive director of United Way of Southeast Georgia, speaks as Sandra Banker, who benefitted from Safe Haven, looks on during the 2012-13 Bulloch County campaign kickoff Tuesday evening at Chops on Main. - photo by CHARLES CRAVEY/special

United Way of Southeast Georgia’s 2012-13 fundraising campaign is off to a fast start.
In Bulloch County, teachers and other school personnel already have committed $69,000 toward the campaign goal of $500,000.
The Bulloch County campaign officially kicked off Tuesday evening at Chops on Main in downtown Statesboro. About 60 people packed into the restaurant’s Walnut Room to hear the compelling testimonies of those whose lives have been changed by some of the agencies supported by United Way.
Marsha Hagan had helped others. But after experiencing difficulties in the birth of her first child, she became a recipient of United Way’s help through the Parent to Parent Program.
“God allows certain people to come into our lives at the opportune moment and Parent to Parent was there for us,” Hagan said.
She added that she is grateful that the annual “Buddy Ball” event, in which Georgia Southern baseball players work with children, will once again be sponsored  in part by United Way.
Sandra Banker said her life was changed by Safe Haven, an emergency safe house for adults and children who are victims of domestic violence. She was given counseling and enrolled in the Adult Literacy Program at the Statesboro Regional Library, where she eventually earned several certificates.
Her life, Banker said, had previously been on a downhill slide. She credited United Way with helping pave the way for her new life.
Olivia Aseron, the campaign’s community chairwoman, stressed the importance of the community heeding a United Way slogan – “Give. Volunteer. Advocate.” – so that the many nonprofit programs in Bulloch and surrounding counties can more effectively serve those in need.
Bob Olliff, the executive director of United Way of Southeast Georgia, said: “I get emotional thinking about how we have so many agencies out there who are 24/7, 365 days a year, whose organizations are always open and responding to the needs of our people.”
“You have the opportunity to give back to the community,” he said. “I don’t know of any other community out there that gives as generously as Statesboro. It’s all about the agencies and what they do, but it does take money and that’s where we come in.”
United Way of Southeast Georgia supports nonprofit groups in Bulloch, Candler, Evans, Emanuel, Tattnall and Jenkins counties. Some of the supported programs are the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club, Bulloch County Alcohol and Drug Council and Prevent Child Abuse Bulloch County.
Olliff said all funds collected through payroll contributions and other means are used in the local six-county area except for a 1 percent that is given to the national United Way campaign. Even a portion of that is returned to the local area for training events, seminars and other uses.

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