United Way of Central Georgia kicks off 2012 campaign with $4.25 million goal

The United Way of Central Georgia kicked off its annual campaign Thursday morning and announced its goal of $4.25 million -- $50,000 more than last year’s goal.

The event held at the Wilson Convention Center marked the beginning of the four-month fundraising drive to raise money for more than 50 Middle Georgia health and human service programs of 33 partner agencies that serve 14 counties.

“Your one gift to United Way helps seniors remain in their homes, provides food, shelter and clothing to those in need, mentors our youth, counsels and strengthens our families and provides so many other services to people here in our communities,” said 2012 Campaign Chairman Dan Forrester, executive vice president and director of community and government relations for Macon-based State Bank & Trust Co.

Keynote speaker retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon said he appreciated the opportunity “to talk about something I’m very passionate about and that’s service.”

“I spent somewhere around 34 years in the service of my country,” he said. “And when you look at the core values of the United States Air Force, the second of those core values talks about service before self. ... (United Way) is about taking care of those who are less fortunate.”

McMahon said when some people are approached about giving to United Way, they say they don’t donate because the agency serves people who “can, but won’t ... (they) can take care of themselves, but won’t; (they) can work, but won’t -- but you know the answer to that. ... Those dollars help Middle Georgians, children who are abused, people who can’t feed themselves, young men and women who otherwise wouldn’t have an adult figure in their lives. Those are the exceptional people being taken care of, and it’s those in need being helped by those who care.”

McMahon encouraged the gathering to let people in the community know about the ways the United Way’s agencies help people who need it.

For the fifth year, Jeff Smith Automotive will donate a car to be raffled for $25 a ticket, Forrester said.

A total of 3,500 tickets will be sold, and they can be bought at all SunTrust Bank, CB&T Bank and State Bank & Trust locations, The Telegraph, all Jeff Smith dealerships, the United Way office and the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This year’s campaign goal was set slightly higher than last year after much consideration by the United Way board and staff, Forrester said.

The 2011 campaign goal was $4.2 million, and it was exceeded by $42,000.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.