August 6, 2013

Editorial | Georgetown Day of Caring theme: ‘Make your presence known’

A Day of Caring focusing on reading to Pre-K 4-year-olds returns to the Georgetown County United Way fundraising campaign, which kicks off in September.

A Day of Caring focusing on reading to Pre-K 4-year-olds returns to the Georgetown County United Way fundraising campaign, which kicks off in September.

Day of Caring will officially start the 2013-14 campaign in Georgetown County, just as Day of Caring traditionally has been the kickoff for the United Way of Horry County. Resource development director Philip Keilen says the Georgetown date will be set in coming days, for either Sept. 19 or Sept. 24.

Reading to youngsters on Day of Caring fits right into the theme of the Georgetown County fundraising campaign: “Make Your Presence Known / Join the Community of Giving.’’ The theme was used for a meeting of corporate donors.

“Out of that luncheon came the idea for our kickoff,’’ Keilen says. Volunteers will go to schools, day care centers and Head Start programs and read to 4-year-olds, a critical age for reading. Following the half day of volunteers reading, the campaign kickoff will be held.

It’s all in the planning stage, but companies are being asked to form teams of three for the reading -- perhaps acting out -- the story. The firms are asked to provide a small gift of supplies, such as crayons or paper, to the classrooms where volunteers read.

“We’ve gotten an excellent, positive response,’’ Keilen says.

At the corporate donors luncheon, representatives discussed ways the United Way can better assist organizations in their employee campaigns and also how corporations and other employers can assist each other by exchanging ideas.

While the Day of Caring is well established as the campaign kickoff in Horry County, Georgetown County has not held a day of caring for several years. In the past, a day of caring was separate from the kickoff, then fell by the wayside in Georgetown County.

Keilen expects that the campaign goal will be at least the $475,000 of the last campaign, which reached 94-plus percent of that goal. Some money is still coming in for that campaign from national companies who conduct their United Way campaigns away from the Grand Strand, and other United Way organizations that have received contributions designated for Georgetown County.

Still unsettled is the chair of the new campaign. City of Georgetown Police Chief Paul Gardner filled that role for last year’s campaign. Gardner moves up to the board chairmanship. The chief was named “Volunteer of the Year’’ at the United Way’s Recognition Day in April at Bibleway Church.

The Georgetown County United Way also serves neighboring Williamsburg County. The United Way board now includes two Williamsburg residents, and the 2012-13 drive included the first county employee campaign. It was a successful effort, netting $3,500 in contributions -- more than a tenfold increase from the previous year in Williamsburg.

Keilen has a wealth of experience as a nonprofit professional in New Jersey prior to moving here in 2005. “Georgetown and Williamsburg counties have a tremendous sense of community,’’ which the United Way is appealing to in the upcoming campaign. “We’re recognizing the fact that the economy is sluggish, but not using that as an excuse to not raise money.’’

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