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Residents help support families in need this season

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POSTED: December 18, 2013 12:00 p.m.
Photo by Paige Hewlett/

Students in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) program at Richmond Hill High School assemble brown bags filled with meals and general foodstuffs for area seniors.

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Whether it is through community partnerships, donations or compassionate volunteers, Richmond Hill continues to support the Bryan County branch of the United Way of the Coastal Empire.
“There is more need in our immediate area than you would expect,” said local United Way Director Kristi Cox.
“Richmond Hill is a fairly affluent community, but there is still exceptional need on a variety of different levels here,” she added.
Historically the United Way has only provided funds and resources to other organizations to impact needs in local communities, but the needs outrank the organizations’ capacity in our area.
“We’ve started working directly with the individuals and families, connecting resources and volunteers when we are able,” Cox said.
A major area that the United Way supports Bryan County is in providing food assistance. Last year alone, more than 161,000 pounds of food were needed to feed the food-insecure.
Through a partnership with Second Harvest and First Baptist Church of Richmond Hill, the United Way connected two organizations with the goal to serve. The local focus of providing for those in need has helped many children, seniors and others in the area to benefit.
Local programs include more than just the First Baptist food pantry though. Students in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program at Richmond Hill High School have set up a program to support local senior citizens.
Every third Thursday, students gather to assemble bags of food that are available for pick-up through the end of the month.
“What many people often think is that they have to donate hundreds or thousands of dollars to support our work in the community,” said Cox. “That isn’t the case at all. For just a $1 in cost to us, we are able to provide a bag of food that includes three meals, 12 enriched milk drinks, fruit, bread and canned goods.
“Yes, we love getting donations of hundreds or thousands of dollars, but it is the small amounts — $10, $25 or $50 — that really sustain us because of the number of people that choose to donate.”
The United Way works with local businesses to set up and manage employee contribution programs that facilitate these small, but frequent donations. In this year’s employee campaign, the Board of Education in Richmond Hill increased giving by 149 percent over last year.
Many other groups step up as well to create programs or offer incentives to their employees for donations.
It isn’t only financial donations that make a difference. Community needs posted to the United Way Facebook page are quickly filled — from requests for appliances to office support, the community steps up across the board.
“It is important for me to thank the community. There are so many people that step up and give — money, time and resources — without thinking twice or seeking personal gain. Our community is filled with genuinely generous people. It is amazing and very humbling.”
Those looking to donate resources or funds or get involved as a volunteer, call the United Way office in Richmond Hill at 459-4111 or 656-6888.
Follow along with the United Way and learn about need for resources or support on the organization’s Facebook page by searching the United Way of Coastal Georgia – Bryan County office.

 

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