Lake Martin Area United Way executive director Sharon Fuller was grinning ear to ear after Tuesday night’s campaign kickoff.

“This is my ninth year and it’s the best start ever,” Fuller said. “It takes everybody coming together to make it work for these 28 agencies.”

Campaign chair Dr. Chante Russell announced the theme for this year’s campaign, “Roads to a Better Future,” alluding to what the agencies do for their clients.

Russell said the board had set a campaign goal of $535,000, 6% over last year’s goal. To some it may seem like a hard goal to reach but there are $119,744 in donations to date. This puts the campaign at 22% of goal thanks in part to employees from the City of Alexander City who happened to be the pacesetter for this year’s campaign. This year the 319 employees more than exceeded their goal of $28,000 by giving $33,000.

“This year we were able to give back more than any other year,” Alexander City city clerk Amanda Thomas said. “In 2016 $2,800 was donated. In 2017, $19,000 was donated. In 2018 $26,000 was donated.”

Thomas said this year reminded her of a quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

The city had 77 employees give their “Fair Share” equivalent to one-hour’s pay per month to the United Way. Seven were Red Feathers giving $1,000 or more.

Fuller has been in shock ever since the city first called her after it started its campaign.

“After four days they called and said come look,” Fuller said. “I was just blown away.” 

Lake Martin Area United Way board president James Dodwell compared what the agencies go through asking for help to him asking for help since hip replacement a few weeks ago.

“It has been a great blessing,” Dodwell said. “The helping hands the last three weeks has been great. It has been a chore for me to ask for help.”

Adding to the city’s $33,000 thus far in the campaign is Russell Medical with an interim total of $23,680; Alexander City Board of Education interim total of $16,252; River Bank & Trust with $5,562; United Way board and staff with 14,802; Quail Fry with $12,571; and Community Action with $4,500.

Fuller said the United Way has ongoing campaigns with Tallapoosa County Schools, Coosa County Schools and upcoming campaigns with Exelon, Frontier, Valley Bank and Gabby Witherington’s 100 Hole Marathon at StillWaters.

Alexander City Mayor Tommy Spraggins challenge everyone else to step up their donations and goals to the United Way.

“We challenged our employees to give to be the pacesetter,” Spraggins said. “We gave 25% more than our goal. We challenge everyone else to match us.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.