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United Way emphasizes people in 2014 Bulloch County campaign
W United Way - Olliff
Bob Olliff, the executive director of United Way of Southeast Georgia, speaks during a luncheon that served as the kickoff for the organization's annual fundraising campaign at R.J.'s Steakery Thursday. - photo by AL HACKLE/Staff

For its 2014 Bulloch County campaign, United Way of Southeast Georgia is aiming at increased participation rather than a dollar target, organizers said at their informal campaign kickoff Thursday.

United Way held its 2014 Bulloch County Campaign Lunch and Learn for volunteers and participating employers at R.J.'s Steakery.

"We've tried to change our way of thinking and make it less about the number and more about the number of people that know that there are opportunities to fill needs within the community," said 2014 Campaign Chairwoman Mandy Fortune.

The campaign, she said, will seek to increase the number of participating workplaces and of employees who give.

Last year's campaign raised $405,000 in Bulloch County, according to information given to the Statesboro Herald by United Way of Southeast Georgia Executive Director Bob Olliff. Since 2001, the organization has provided more than $5 million to a variety of nonprofit agencies in Bulloch County.

But those dollar figures were not part of Thursday's presentation, which spotlighted the ways people are served.

"You ask a simple question: ‘What does United Way do?' Well, if you want to get it down to the core, we simply help people," Olliff reminded volunteers. "Our agencies help people on a daily basis, 24/7/365."

In Bulloch County, United Way currently provides funding to 17 agencies in three categories. A colorful chart in Olliff's slideshow showed that the Youth and Social Development category received 39 percent of local funding last year, while Elderly and Health programs received 27 percent and Emergency Services programs received 34 percent.

"We feel like we're touching all three of these areas pretty well, and the only way that we think we can do that in a better manner is just simply by more dollars going into the overall United Way budget, which in turn would allow us to get more dollars to these agencies," Olliff said.

Workplace campaigns are United Way's key fundraising approach. Employees of participating workplaces simply can donate but are encouraged to give regularly through payroll deduction. A United Way citizen review panel reviews agencies that apply for support to decide how best to use the money.

United Way maintains that 99 percent of the funds donated go to local agencies, with 1 percent sent to the national organization.

Some successes by partner agencies in Bulloch County highlighted by United Way include a 99 percent promotion or graduation rate and 50 percent honor roll rate for schoolchildren served by the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County; 130,000 food items distributed by The Food Bank Inc. to more than 3,700 people; 1,161 "bed-nights" provided by Safe Haven in three months to adults and children fleeing domestic violence; and 17,800 books distributed to children through the RIF program.

Another agency, Bulloch Med Connection, was credited with saving senior citizens and others $1.8 million on medications by working with drug companies and local pharmacies to obtain long-term prescriptions at no cost or reduced cost.

These were some examples, among others, from Thursday's slideshow.

"All of these different impacts, you and your company and your employees at your companies are able to impact every one of these areas because of your support of United Way," Olliff told employer representatives.

Also during the luncheon, United Way of Southeast Georgia presented its 2013 Campaign Excellence Awards to Brodie International; HeritageBank of the South; the accounting firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill & Cannon; UPS; and Citizens Bank of Bulloch County. Bulloch County Schools was singled out for recognition as last year's leading employer participant, responsible for more than $80,000 in contributions.

Two fundraising events also were announced that will benefit United Way. Back for a second year, OctoberQuest, hosted by The Clubhouse on Oct. 18, will have teams from United Way-supporting employers compete in 10 different activities, such as bowling, batting and miniature golf. Proceeds from this year's Run in the Boro 5K, scheduled for Dec. 5, also will go to United Way.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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