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UNITED WAY BLASTS OFF 2016 CAMPAIGN!

Augusta, GA – United Way of the Central Savannah River Area entertained almost 600 guests today at the 2016 Campaign Kickoff. Hosted at Bell Auditorium, the Kickoff was presented through the generosity of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, American Family Insurance, MAU Workforce Solutions, Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Doctors Hospital, Georgia Power, Savannah River Remediation, and University Health Care System. Jennie Montgomery and Brad Means of WJBF News Channel 6 presided over the event.

This year’s themed event was “Blast Off Into Outer Space” with guests being encouraged to aim for the stars as they launch their campaigns to raise funds for the needs of the local community. Dancers from Augusta West Dance Company, under the direction of Megan Luquire, were on hand to entertain guests with a lively “Alien Encounter”.

Eight companies were recognized for running Pacesetter Campaigns this year, campaigns which were launched prior to the Kickoff: The Family YMCA, Palmetto GBA, JCPenney, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Savannah River Remediation, Target, UPS, and Walmart.

Each year, United Way is fortunate to have assistance from a number of local companies who loan key employees that will work with United Way for the next 12 weeks helping to run campaigns throughout the community. This year’s Loaned Professionals (LPs) were introduced as: Ebony Hicks, Global Personnel Solutions; Jamie Hill, Southern Nuclear Operating Company – Plant Vogtle; Richard Hillman, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; Larry Laughlin, Community Volunteer; and Rita Stubblefield, Community Volunteer. Blanchard and Calhoun, MAU Workforce Solutions, and SRP Federal Credit Union graciously agreed to provide sponsorships for the LP program.

Mikey Coffman, a recipient of services at a United Way funded program at Friendship Community Center, shared her inspiring story with the audience. Through the support and encouragement she found at Friendship, she was able to turn her life around. Today, as Office Manager of the same agency that got her back on her feet, she eagerly shares her story to help others find the help and encouragement they need.

Campaign Co-Chairs, Scott Elledge with WJBF News Channel 6, and Mark Haddon, Beasley Broadcast Group, addressed the audience dressed as Obi Wan Kanobi and Han Solo, respectively. They encouraged guests to aim for the stars – to infinity and beyond – as they launch their campaigns to raise funds for the support of health and human service needs in the local community. United Way’s 2016 campaign goal was announced as $3.5 million, and the Combined Federal Campaign goal is $650,000. The 2016 Campaign Video, “It’s Time for a New Perspective” was premiered at the event. The video encourages everyone to look beyond themselves to see the needs of others and to give to make a difference in the lives of those in greatest need in our community.

Scott Johnson, Columbia County Administrator and United Way’s 2016 Board Chair, made a special appearance. Dressed as Captain Kirk from the Starship Enterprise, Mr. Johnson closed the meeting by commenting, “When you give to United Way, you’re not just giving to an agency or a program, you’re giving the gift of hope to an individual in desperate need. So, when you’re asked to donate this year, remember that you have the capacity to change a life.”