United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley announced Thursday that the 2013 campaign raised more than $7 million, the largest amount in the organization's history.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, the 2013 campaign chairman, and Scott Ferguson, United Way's president and CEO, led an end-of-campaign celebration at Columbus State University's Riverside Theatre. Entertaining the crowd with humor, they were both dressed in "Duck Dynasty" costumes, which had become a signature of the Live United campaign.
About 150 volunteers and United Way staff members attended the celebration. When the time came to unveil the big number, seven United Way employees held up seven digits, each in a bullseye. The total amount raised was $7,030,034, which surpassed the $7 million goal. It also broke the record set last year when the campaign raised $6.9 million.
A Combined Federal Campaign at Fort Benning raised an additional $623,146.98, Ferguson said.
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"Our staff, donors and volunteers stepped up to support United Way, which enhances our community in a big way this year," he said in a statement released by the campaign. "Their generous support allows us to continue transforming individual lives and creating the kind of change that will better our entire community."
Taylor described the 23-week campaign as an emotional roller coaster, which he said felt more like 23 months. But he was proud to be part of such a generous community.
"This money is going to stay right here in our community and that's why I got involved," he said, pointing out that 100,000 people in need would benefit from the funds raised during the campaign.
Taylor introduced Sallie Martin, a United Way Board member who will serve as chairwoman of the 2014 campaign. Martin thanked Taylor for his service and said it would be tough filling his shoes.
"I'm not as hairy as he is. I'm not as funny as he is and I'm not packing heat," she said, sparking laughter from the audience. "It just feels right to be doing this right now and it's something I'm passionate about."
Haley Barr Jones, the United Way's manager of marketing and communications, said the allocation process will begin now that the campaign is over.
About 80 volunteers will participate in the process, some reviewing agency's financials and others doing site visits. She said recommendations for allocations will be presented to the United Way board in May, and the funding will go into effect July 1.
Last year, the money was used to fund 50 programs in Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Stewart, Talbot and Taylor counties in Georgia and Russell County in Alabama. The services were provided by 27 agencies.
At the celebration, the United Way also recognized outstanding volunteers, agencies and companies for the impact they had on the campaign.
TSYS won the Million Dollar Round Table Award for raising $1,213,598, the most ever raised in a local United Way campaign.
"I want to thank the outstanding campaign accomplishments of our donors and volunteers for their commitment to improving the lives of thousands in the Chattahoochee Valley," Taylor said in the statement released by the campaign. "Their enthusiastic support allows United Way to put valuable resources to work and invest in programs that prepare students to graduate, help families leave poverty and live healthy, responsible lives."
UNITED WAY AWARDS
Campaign Coordinators of the Year: West Pryor and Mike Marz of Regions Financial Corporation and Charlotte Matthews of Eastman Kodak
Million Dollar Round Table Award: TSYS
Rising Star Award: Motors Acceptance Corporation
Small Company of the Year Award: Thayer Properties
Mid-Size Company of the Year Award: PCI-Precision Components International
Large Company of the Year Awards: Synder’s-Lance Inc.
Live United Award: Columbus Water Works
Chairman’s Award of Excellence: Johnson Controls
President’s Award: Phenix City Government