In the warmth of the sun on Saturday afternoon, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce accepted a check from Reader’s Digest for $1,000.
Last Thursday, city officials were notified by the 3 million circulation magazine that the city had won "We Hear You America" online sweepstakes. Residents were encouraged to vote on the magazine’s website and share stories about why they love their community. In turn, the magazine selected 100 cities to receive $1,000 checks.
"We’re all so glad to be here. It truly is refreshing," Reader’s Digest brand ambassador Jason Ramos said of the ninth stop on the tour. Ramos said his favorite part of the tour is seeing new parts of the country he has never been to before.
"It is really, really exciting and just to see your own country is amazing," he said. "They’re [the cities] all unique in their own ways."
The RV, with block letters stating "We Hear You America", was parked in front of the Liberty County Development Authority building to be seen clearly by drivers passing by. At the end of the tour, the RV will be given away to one winner who registered at one of the 100 sites.
Three brand ambassadors, wearing blue Reader’s Digest jumpsuits, are driving the country, visiting one city a day for the next 100 days, Ramos said. Model Niki Taylor, spokeswoman for the campaign, is also a part of the tour, but did not get to come to Hinesville.
Liberty County Chamber Executive Director Leah Poole entered the city into the contest through the chamber’s Facebook page as a way to generate funds to be used for historical preservation.
"Personally, I think that this is a very big honor," she said. "Knowing that Reader’s Digest chose our county because of the outpouring of passion that our citizenry, past and present, expressed is impressive."
As a longtime resident of the county, Poole said the passion and love for the community from others is exciting and shows her how much pride others take in living here.
"If you go on our page and read some of the stories, it really makes you see how much this place impacts people with its history, good people and atmosphere. Seeing these memories and experiences that people have had makes me even more happy to say that I am from here," she said.
Ramos presented a faux cardboard check to the mayor and reminded the group of about 20 people to continue to vote until Feb. 7 when the contest ends. More funds will be handed out, based on the voting.
"We’re so happy to be here today. We’re here because the residents of your town have really flocked to the Reader’s Digest website," Ramos said.
Thomas thanked the residents for voting and the chamber for working on the event.
"This is a very historic county and it’s one of the most historic in the U.S.," Thomas said. "Our cities are a very important part of America."