ALBANY – There were cheerleaders cheering, drummers pounding and shouts of “Go! Fight! Win!” on Wednesday, but despite the time of year there was no football game.

Instead, it was the annual kickoff on Wednesday for an organization that supports more than 20 service organizations in 13 counties.

“This is our 2019 fundraising kickoff for the year,” Shaunae Motley, CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia, told The Herald on the sidelines of the chapter’s 65th anniversary luncheon at Albany State University’s West Campus Wednesday. “Today we are introducing a $750,000 campaign.”

Officials with the local United Way chapter say they hope to raise that amount over the next 10 months to fund the organization’s 2020 efforts.

Corporate giving and donations through employers always have been the backbone of the budget for United Way. Now, Motley said, there will be an emphasis on reaching out to those who may not have the opportunity through work to have money deducted from their paychecks.

“We’re trying to diversify our income by engaging individual donors, retirees and small-business owners,” Motley said.

Money raised by the Southwest Georgia chapter helps fund 22 programs through the 15 agencies with which it partners. Those agencies include Albany Advocacy Resource Center, Albany Area YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany, Easterseals Southwest Georgia, Family Literacy Connection, Middle Flint Council on Aging and SOWEGA Council on Aging, among others.

“When you give through United Way, your donation is more powerful because we can do more collectively than we can do as individuals,” Motley said.

United Way of Southwest Georgia was formed in 1954 and is now among the family of 1,800 organizations located in 45 countries, she said.

During the program, state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, discussed the importance of charity.

“There is power in giving,” Sims said. “There is joy in giving. Supporting and giving to charity are the core of this United States of America. Through charitable giving, you will experience more pleasure.”

The state senator encouraged the audience to give both of their time and money as they are able.

“People are in need every day,” she said. “We are asking you to do (this) to support this agency because there are truly so many, many needs in southwest Georgia that we need to be addressing. You don’t need to be a millionaire; just give what you have.

“That’s what we want to do is make sure this community has an organization that helps people in need.”

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