Those who have fallen on hard times soon may have more reason for thanks.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire Liberty County, which offers grants to community aid organizations, on Friday announced victory over its campaign goal of $195,000.
The group had raised $205,615.60 as of the campaign’s formal close Thursday afternoon, according to director Jennifer Darsey. More donations still could come by the end of the month.
“I’m overwhelmed, overjoyed, ecstatic and proud to say I live in Liberty County, where the compassion of people moves them to action and apathy does not reign supreme,” Darsey said.
The amount is an 11.13-percent increase from $185,026 raised last year, when the goal was $181,000.
And the success stretches across Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties. The United Way of the Coastal Empire announced Friday that it exceeded its campaign goal and raised $8,927,246.
The funds raised within Liberty will go back to organizations within the county that provide for four areas of need: education and youth development, economic independence, health and wellness, and basic human needs.
“To me, this campaign represents the spirit of a community who cares deeply and truly wants to make a difference,” Darsey said. “We didn’t have enormous checks being written by any one individual; most of our donors are working-class citizens responding to a need they know is here in our community.”
Many of the top donors were organizations that see the need first-hand.
Liberty County Board of Education employees raised more than $50,000, and much of that support was earmarked for the Backpack Buddy program, which provides weekend meals for elementary students whose sole source of food may be school nutrition programs.
The Child Support Recovery office also was a great supporter, Darsey said.
During a presentation to them, Darsey said she became teary when explaining the Backpack Buddy program and realizing that what others choose to do and not do matters in the lives of people who are in desperate need.
“Needless to say, I cried like a baby and tried to finish speaking through all of the blubbering, but when I looked up at the ladies sitting in front of me, they were crying too and it wasn’t sympathy for me — it was because they get it,” Darsey said.
Kroger, Georgia Power and Target, which donated $28,749 after a series of fundraisers, also were among the top donors.
Centurylink “did an absolutely phenomenal job,” Darsey said, with 61 employees raising more than $16,000.
The Liberty County government also contributed $9,236, according to Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel.
The county did not mandate giving but offered a breakfast incentive to any department with 100 percent employee participation, he said.
“We do explain in department meetings and through emails and such about what United Way is and what it does for our community and how it is a way of helping our own during these difficult times …,” Sprinkel said. “A single dollar will go a long way when you add it to the dollar of your neighbor and to another neighbor. That dollar — when added to everyone else’s — helps a lot of people.”