Critical United Way fundraising campaigns in Georgetown and Horry counties are in high gear and on pace with drives in previous years. Georgetown County’s fundraising is at 66 percent of the $475,000 goal; however, the results of the Georgetown County Schools campaign should move the total raised to “right around 70 percent” resource development director Phillip Keilen says.
The United Way of Horry County has raised $1,049,845.76 on its goal of $1,275,000, according to marketing and communications coordinator Jill Watts. The 82 percent “is right in keeping with” previous campaigns in mid-January. “We still have a ways to go.”
Campaign chairwoman Rebecca Hardwick says in a more perfect world, the annual fundraising would be wrapped up, but “things are where they have been in [previous years]. This is kind of normal.”
City of Georgetown police chief Paul Gardner, chairman of the Georgetown County campaign, says “I am generally pleased with the campaign. Some [contributors] have really stepped up this year.” The city work force of 150-plus tripled employee participation to 30 percent with the support of interim city administrator Carey Smith. Keilen is pleased with the the results of bedrock supporters such as Santee Cooper, International Paper and Brookgreen Gardens. “They did really well,” Keilen says. Another major supporter, Georgetown Hospital System, will have its campaign in April.
Last year’s Georgetown County campaign reached 95 percent of its goal, but the United Way boldly increased the goal by $5,000 because of the pressing needs of the 24 agencies and the people they serve. The United Way also launched the 211 initiative in August 2012. The 211 system helps people connect with a variety of social services. In conjunction with the Frances Bunnelle Foundation and the Dollywood Foundation, the United Way also supports the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. In Georgetown County, 1,300 children, infants to age 5, receive an age-appropriate book every month.
The United Way of Horry County is in full fundraising mode. “We’re ‘all hands on deck’ to [meet the goal], Hardwick says. “It’s been a good effort,” she says of the campaign thus far. She takes note of the lingering tough economic times. Both United Way organizations – and all of the nearly 70 agencies and programs the United Ways support – face a “Catch 22” of sorts: The slow economy surely makes it tougher to raise money to help fund the nonprofits at the same time economic factors increase the demands on many of the agencies.
Successful United Way campaigns are vital to our area’s overall well-being. The Georgetown and Horry campaigns have seen encouraging signs such as those cited by Gardner and Keilen. If you’re new to the area, perhaps as a retiree, the United Way needs your help. If you haven’t already done so, make a contribution or pledge today. As Watts says, “The needs are out there – we need to raise the money. We’ll continue to work – and we’ll get there.”