HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The United Way of Hartsville is in the midst of its annual campaign, which started in August. This year’s goal is the same as last year: $310,000.
Last year’s United Way of Hartsville exceeded that goal by $35,610 for a total of $345,610, which included $53,300 for special programs such as beds, fire victim assistance, heaters, backpacks for middle and high school students, Coats 4 Kids, stocking a food pantry and diaper pantry.
“All of the individual campaigns run at different times; some run into February and March,” said Joann DeLong, executive director of United Way of Hartsville.
She said most United Way campaigns run in the fall so company payroll deductions start in January.
DeLong said 36 companies donate to the United Way. These include local and nationwide. Sixteen local companies donate through payroll deduction, she said.
All programs assisted by United Way must fit into the categories of health, education or income need. But she said there are always special projects that crop up during the year for which United Way receives special donations to fill.
“We will get asked to do special projects during the year,” DeLong said. “Some will send a letter asking for funding, and if we feel like it falls within what we want to do, we will fund in whole or part.
“We get a lot of support from Rotary, Kiwanis and individuals who just hear about a need and have come to my rescue to support a project.”
For example, DeLong said, she has a group called Hartsville Heroes that she messages when she has a need. She said these individuals always come through for her.
“I sent out a call for heaters last winter, and I had people coming to me with heaters, new and used, and with money to purchase them,” she said. “They met my needs.”
The same is true of the Coats 4 Kids project.
“We are a very small United Way,” she said. “But I knew we could do a coat drive.”
She said she has collected 1,497 coats in four years to distribute to school children. These are both new and gently used coats. She said at first the coats were all being delivered to Carolina Kids, but she was getting calls that coats were needed at the middle school and high school. Last year she dropped off 50 coats to Hartsville Middle School and 75 to Hartsville High School.
“Three hundred and fifteen coats went to Carolina Kids last year for children,” DeLong said. “Sixty went to the Hartsville Soup Kitchen.”
She said coats, hats and gloves are requested this year to help children stay warm through the winter.
“Please donate gloves, too,” she said.
DeLong said disaster assistance is one of her favorite projects.
During Hurricane Florence last month, DeLong said, she gave out 30 x 50 tarps and grocery cards for those who experienced leaking roofs and loss of food.
“All the tarps are gone,” she said. “I’m still giving out grocery cards to those who had power outages for more than a few days so they can replace food lost in their refrigerator.”
A new program started last year was the backpack collection for middle and high school students. She said other groups and organizations do a great job of providing them for younger students at the beginning of the school year, but she was getting calls that older students were in need of backpacks. She said they require larger and sturdier ones to carry their load.
She presented Hartsville Middle School with 50 of the larger and deeper filled backpacks and the high school 75 to distribute.
DeLong shared her excitement for a new one-day program in November with CareFirst to help veterans with medical care and dental services.
“Our grant will cover Hartsville veterans,” she said. “Veterans never ask for our help. So we’re excited to support this program.”
DeLong is urging Hartsville residents to give the United Way so that she can continue to provide services to the community.
" United Way looks at the community to determine the greatest needs," she said. "Then we work with the local nonprofits, or we create our own programs to meet those needs. However, none of this could happen without the greatly needed and appreciated donations from our local businesses, their employees and private donors. By working together, we're making a difference in so many families’ lives in ways that most cannot even imagine. I just want to take this moment to say, 'Thank you' to everyone, for without you, we at United Way would not be able to touch so many lives."