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by Shamira McCray, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – So far, the United Way of Florence County has raised $1.175 million toward its 2015-16 “You’re in the Driver’s Seat” campaign. But to make the $1.2 million goal, the organization still needs approximately $24,000 in donations by Thursday.

The annual campaign is a fundraiser for the United Way partnering agencies. Dollars raised will help fund the agencies’ programs, and that in turn will allow them to focus more time, money and effort on improving the lives in the community.

Money raised through this year’s campaign will support 17 Florence County agencies that provide a variety of services including medical and dental care for uninsured people, emergency safe shelters, therapy sessions for children with speech and language disorders, tutoring to help adults learn to read and respite care for individuals with lifelong disabilities, among other services.

“All of these agencies this year say 'our needs are increasing. We have a greater need for funding,'” said Quincy Kennedy, United Way board chairman. “We’re trying to help those agencies in funding for people of the Pee Dee.”

Wendy Bird, United Way president, said the organization is thankful for each donation it has received toward the current campaign. Events such as the October 2015 flood and the downsizing of companies have affected the amount of funding United Way has received this year, she said.

“We’re just hoping and praying that there are some people in the community that say, ‘I want to invest in something,' ” Bird said.

With 17 different agencies and 17 different causes, donors can invest one time and their donations will multiply many different ways, Bird said.

Kennedy said United Way staff members have done a lot of work to get them down to only needing a tiny amount of money to meet the goal. But, he said, “we want to get it over the top for the citizens of the Pee Dee.”

There are several ways to donate. Donations will be accepted at, by calling the United Way office at 843-662-2407 or by mail. Donations can be mailed to 1621 W. Palmetto St., Florence, S.C. 29501. A pledge form can be found inside this edition of the Morning News.

Bird said Piggly Wiggly stores are also partnering with United Way to support campaigns.

“Piggly Wiggly is doing a round-up. If you buy your groceries at Piggly Wiggly, you can round your total up and that will go to the United Way,” Bird said.

Many individuals and companies have donated to the United Way, Bird said.

“A lot of people did step up, and we’re thankful they have already given, and we want to encourage those people who haven’t given anything,” she said.

Thursday is the last day for the United Way to make its 2015-16 campaign goal.

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