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United Way of the Central Savannah River Area hosted the 2017 Carnival Kickoff luncheon today at William B. Bell Auditorium with clowns, mimes, circus animals, and lots of fun in the air.  Although the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus has held their last performance, the United Way Circus was in full force today under the big top with over 500 guests in attendance. 

The Kickoff was presented through the generosity of Augusta University/AU Health, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Southern Nuclear Company, Doctors Hospital, Electrolux Major Appliances, Fifth Third Bank, Georgia Power, MAU Workforce Solutions, and University Health Care System.  Jennie Montgomery and Brad Means of WJBF News Channel 6 presided over the event.  Students from Burke County High School were on hand to entertain guests with a lively performance of  “United Way” to the tune of  The Village People’s “YMCA”. 

Thirteen companies were recognized and thanked for running Pacesetter Campaigns this year, campaigns which were launched prior to the Kickoff: ADP, Blanchard and Calhoun, Club Car, First Community Bank, John Deere, Macy’s, Palmetto GBA, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Savannah River Remediation, Target, UPS, United Way of the CSRA Board of Directors, and Wells Fargo.

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:  Larry Laughlin, Community Volunteer; Rita Stubblefield, Community Volunteer; Randall Sullivan, Intern, USC Aiken; Ben Terry, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; Elvin Thompson, Community Volunteer; and Alex Thirkell, Southern Nuclear Company.

Sylvia Beam, a recipient of services at a United Way funded program at Hope House, shared her inspiring story with the audience.  Through the support and encouragement she found at Hope House, she was able to turn her life around.  Today, as the Grants and Giving Coordinator at 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. 

Scott Peebles, Chief Deputy Marshal with the Richmond County Marshal’s Office and United Way’s 2017 Board Chair, shared some of United Way’s accomplishments so far in 2017.  He highlighted the Club Car Charity Golf Classic which raised over $150,000 benefitting United Way of the CSRA.  Under the leadership of Robert McElreath, this has been Club Car’s most successful tournament to date.

United Way’s 2017 Campaign Chair, Thomas M. Blanchard III with Blanchard and Calhoun,  introduced the 2017 Campaign Video, “Imagine”, which invites everyone to take an imaginary journey to several local nonprofit agencies and then to imagine a community void of the vital health and human service programs they provide.  Mr. Blanchard announced United Way’s 2017 campaign goal as $3.4 million and encouraged guests to Step Right Up as they launch their campaigns to raise funds for the needs of the local community.  He commented, “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 individuals in desperate need.  So, when you’re asked to donate this year, remember that you have the capacity to change a life.” 

View pictures from the event. >