United Way campaign kicks off Sept. 9 with Day of Caring

The United Way of Horry County will start its annual funderaising campaign on Sept. 9, when Day of Caring volunteers will paint, clean and do other sprucing up at several United Way partners such as the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Conway. The goal is $1.325 million, an increase from last year’s successful campaign.

The Boys & Girls Club will have the help of a dozen or more employees of South State Bank, where United Way campaign chairman John W. Rowe is senior vice president. The bank employees will do “landscaping, a lot of painting, inside and outside, and pressure washing.” It will be Rowe’s eighth Day of Caring; he has also volunteered for the United Way in other capacities.

Day of Caring begins with a breakfast for volunteers at the Carolina Forest Community Center, prior to the volunteers going to the several partner agencies. “This year, instead of bringing everybody back to Carolina Forest, volunteers will deliver refreshments to the ten sites.” Other non-profits on the work schedule include Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, Community Kitchen, New Directions (family and men’s shelters), North Strand Helping Hand, SOS Health Care, A Father’s Place, Disabilities and Special Needs and Neighbor to Neighbor..

The most recent fundraising drive exceeded its $1.3 million goal, increased by $25,000 after the previous drive met its goal for the first time in several years. “We exceeded the goal last year and felt we could bump it a bit,” Rowe said. The $1.325 is still short of total money raised prior to the recession of 2008. In the campaign before the national downturn, the United Way raised $1,491,000, well over the $1.475 goal.

Rowe and United Way president Genie Sherard are optimistic about the upcoming campaign. Increasingly, technology will be employed to reach people such as those who have moved businesses here. “We’ll be addressing the community through technology,” Rowe says. “This will give us an opportunity to touch some folks we wouldn’t ordinarily be in front of.”

For the last drive, a New Business Division was created and Rowe says the new campaign will continue to target recent retirees, who may have been business executives. Sherard says the United Way website is “extremely streamlined” for people to make pledges and “we are looking at how we can use mobile phones.”

Payroll deductions remain a major source of United Way funding. Santee Cooper’s chief executive Lonnie Carter presided Monday at a kick-off luncheon for several managers. Through the years, the utility has supported United Way not only financially but also with volunteers for Day of Caring, and people such as Gregg Turbeville who has led the United Way division covering all industry. “Santee Cooper is the most giving company,” Sherard says.

Rowe was born in Marian and moved to the beach when he was in middle school. He attended Horry-Georgetown Technical College and is a graduate of Lander University, Greenwood. For Rowe, the United Way is “a critical, personal mission. We’re fortunate to be able to volunteer. It’s about people helping people.”

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