Aiken County's United Way office has arrived to the midpoint in its annual fundraising campaign. Volunteers brought updates in their divisions at a luncheon on Friday.


Donnie Thaxton, Savannah River Remediation's campaign chairman, said the company had reached its $174,000 goal in June. Since then, the company lost 465 people to layoffs in September. Another 1,400 were furloughed this week because of the federal government shutdown. Still, Thaxton was undeterred by the difficult circumstances the company has encountered.


“We've had some of the campaign money lost through the layoffs,” he said. “We've got folks on our committee that are looking for more fundraisers even now.”


Wesley Hightower, the overall campaign chairman, expressed his appreciation that all the divisions are doing well.


He cited three upcoming fundraising events – the Fun Day at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the Jack-o'-lantern Jubilee on Oct. 26 in North Augusta; and the WSI River Run at North Augusta Riverview Park on Nov. 2.


United Way's loaned executives are Jim Moore, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; Trenadia Jordan, Security Federal Bank; and McKenzie Sealy, sponsored by CH2M HILL. They also cited the efforts of all the businesses and organizations pursuing their goals to meet the $2.52 million sought by United Way in support of its 30 partner agencies.


“My experience has been very eye-opening,” Jordan said. “I've always lived in Aiken County, and I had no idea there's such a high need to help others in my hometown. ... It's good to see pledges coming in, showing that people do care.”


Sharon Rodgers, the United Way president, acknowledged that Aiken County may have more needs than in the past because of funding problems in many areas.


“It's always gratifying about the community's support,” Rodgers said. “We never want to be in a position that we can't support the programs we have in the county. Those programs provide the safety net for those less fortunate. Our goal is to meet those needs.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter.


He has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.