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United Way sets $200,000 goal
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The United Way of the Coastal Empire announced $202,699 as this year’s goal for the fundraising campaign this past week at The Heritage Bank. The annual campaign runs from September to November.

Liberty County branch
The Liberty County branch of the United Way of the Coastal Empire serves as a key resource to many area non-profit organizations. The funds the United Way provides to these organizations go a long way in helping these agencies further serve the county.
Agencies that receive support from the United Way include the Manna House, Senior Citizens, Inc., the Boy and Girl Scouts. The United Way provides a bulk of some agencies’ budgets and is essentially in keeping the non-profit organizations going.
The Heritage Bank hosted the kick-off, complete with refreshments and finger food to help foster an atmosphere for networking.  
The chamber of commerce contributed to drawing a crowd by combining the kickoff with its “Business after Hours.”
Leah Poole, Liberty County area director, made beelines through the crowd of about 200 to distribute tickets for door prizes and a raffle. Door prizes included a golf bag pack. An auction also helped raise more than $200.
Kim Thomas is campaign chairwoman on the United Way’s all-volunteer board.
She described this past Thursday’s event as a tremendous success.
“It was absolutely the largest kick-off in Liberty County,” she said

With the added support of the Heritage Bank and the chamber of commerce, Thomas said it was an opportunity to get the message across to a lot of people.
To come up with the goal, she said organizers looked at last year’s campaign. The United Way raised about $175,000 for Liberty County last year.
“We really, really emphasize the money raised in Liberty County, stays in Liberty County,” Thomas said. “Every dollar contributed goes into funding programs.”
During the fundraising campaign, the United Way first goes to businesses that have regularly given in the past. This year’s kickoff was also a good opportunity for the United Way to introduce itself to new businesses., she said.
While Thursday night’s kick-off officially announced the beginning of the campaign, it was also a chance to distinguish some businesses that have already donated.
Georgia Power announced its employees had already given $5,332 and were still donating. Liberty County government reported $7,000.
These businesses are the United Way’s pacesetters. As pacesetters they begin their fundraising before the campaign starts to help the campaign board decided on the fundraising goal.
Poole said she was excited about Georgia Theatre Company’s plan for donations.
As a branch of the company, Liberty Cinemas will raise funds for the United Way through “Film and Food for the Cause” September 23-27. For $10 moviegoers can purchase a ticket that will get them into a movie with a medium popcorn, medium drink, and a coupon book redeemable at local restaurants. 
Liberty Cinemas will donate the proceeds it receives from the “Film and Food for the Cause” to the United Way.
Poole said for $10, people really get a package worth about $30. She said Georgia Theatre Company has raised $35,000 doing this movie ticket fundraiser in the past.
She encourages those not participating in a business to participate as individuals. Individuals can “give of time or money. (The United Way) can always use volunteers.”
Businesses wishing to participate in helping the United Way fundraiser can do so through an employee campaign or a business donation.
For more information, call Poole at 368-4282 or Thomas at 876-3564.

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