Three words were repeated often Wednesday at the kickoff luncheon for the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s 2009 campaign in Bryan County.
Every gift counts.
"There’s nothing too small or too inconsequential," said Campaign Chairperson Cynthia Chastang. "We need everybody to pitch in. This economic crisis has touched just about everybody. It’s either someone in their family, a friend or someone they’ve heard of. We need to be a bridge back to normalcy."
The kickoff was held at the J. Dixie Harn Community Center in Pembroke and the campaign ends Nov. 20. The goal is $70,000 -- same as last year, when $68,000 was raised. And fundraisers know the times are tough.
"We are all aware of the financial pressures that are on all families and businesses now," said Janice Blunt, area director for United Way in Bryan County. "But what I get to see is that calls for help are up because of the economic climate."
Blunt said that was demonstrated recently in a call she got from a woman looking for help."She said her husband had gotten laid off last month and she’d gotten laid off last week," Blunt said. "I don’t know how much more we can say than that, when you multiply it across the county."
There is a substantial increase in calls to the United Way's 211 help line, according to Gregg Schroeder, president of the United Way of the Coastal Empire -- which covers Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties.
"We’re seeing a 25 percent jump in calls for basic human needs through our 211 call-in service," Schroeder said, noting the same tough times driving the increase in calls may hurt fundraising efforts.
"We do think the challenge will be more difficult this year because of the unemployment situation," he said. "What we’re trying to emphasize is that every gift counts and we’re trying to get broader participation throughout the area."
Among the services the United Way offers in Bryan County is The Clothes Line, a second hand store in Pembroke.
It’s already outgrown its first home and is about to outgrow it’s current facility, Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook said.
"Each time I see what can be done and what is being done, it amazes me," she said. "I am so proud to have the Bryan County United Way."
There are currently more than 37 agencies and a wide range of services funded by the United Way of the Coastal Empire, and the 2009 campaign hopes to net $8.2 million to help fund them.
"Bryan County is critical," Schroeder said. "Bryan County has always been a good solid and stable participant within the United Way effort, in funding sources and services provided as well."
Blunt told those at Wednesday’s kickoff a little financial help from a lot of people will go a long way.
"If we can get a dollar a week from everybody employed in Bryan County we probably make the goal and then some," she said. "And if you have some retired friend who can give $10 and they know someone who can give $10, and they can call someone else can give $10, all of a sudden we’ve done what we need to do."
Note: There are 17 programs or agencies in Richmond Hill served by the United Way:
American Red Cross, America's Second Harvest-Kids Cafe, American Cancer Society, Bryan County Juvenile Diversion Program, Boys and Girls Club in Richmond Hill, Boy Scouts, Brown Bag (food for the elderly in North Bryan), Clothes Line, Girl Scouts, Helen's Haven, Life (Literacy Is For Everyone), Med Bank, Rape Crisis, Salvation Army (In Savannah), Savannah Speech and Hearing, SHEP, YMCA.
For more information about the United Way in Bryan County, go to www.uwce.org or call Janice Blunt at 653-5344.