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United Way exceeds goals, marks record year in 2018
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Hinesville Housing Authority CEO Melanie Thompson and Chairman Joe Ford present Jennifer Darsey with a $10,000 donation check.

According to United Way of the Coastal Empire’s Area Director Jennifer Darsey, the dollar amount raised this year represents the highest dollars raised in the local United Way’s history—bringing in $333,171, eclipsing previous campaigns of years past by nearly $130,000.

United Way of the Coastal Empire serves Effingham, Bryan, Chatham and Liberty counties. United Way supports 92 programs at 58 nonprofit agencies within the service area, according to It is a volunteer-driven organization that involves hundreds of community leaders and professionals in every aspect of businesses, including fundraising, marketing and funding decisions, the website continued.

Those community leaders and professionals are a major part of the local success, Darsey said, with their contributions to fundraising making a difference at many levels.

“More dollars raised represents higher capacity building opportunities, increased funding for local programs and additional opportunities to help the needs of specific populations of people unique to our community makeup,” Darsey added.

DS Smith Packaging and Paper raised over $22,000 during their inaugural employee campaign, which will aid in their global community sustainability mission, Darsey said. Liberty County employees and the Board of Commissioners raised just under $11,000, and much of the support comes from their leadership under County Administrator Joey Brown and Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel, Darsey continued.

“We can’t thank you enough to our Liberty County Board of Education,” Darsey said. “The dollars their employees raise represent the highest earning employee campaign in our local market—close to $34,000—a $10,000 increase over last year’s fundraising.”

Joseph Martin Elementary raised the highest amount out of the schools, she said. JME came in at $7,400, with Liberty Elementary School coming in a close second with $6,200.

“The Heritage Bank not only raised more for United Way of the Coastal Empire than they have in past years, coming in at $9,000, but they are also huge volunteer partners, encouraging their employees to help with various UW projects every month,” Darsey continued.

The Hinesville Housing Authority CEO Melanie Thompson and Chairman Joe Ford presented a check to the United Way for $10,000. The check will continue to benefit the mission of United Way and its local programs, Darsey said.

UWCE also acquired the Landings Military Relief Fund, which UWCE now administers and fully case manages for active duty soldiers and their families, Darsey said. 

“Our Backpack Buddy Program has expanded to Fort Stewart’s schools, becoming the first of its kind on a U.S. military base,” Darsey said. “The SEAL feeding project places full meal bags with recipes in local schools—a project that is fully overseen and developed by our local United Way Program Coordinator, Cole Seal.”

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