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United Way has reason to party

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Houndslake Country Club was transformed into the Emerald City on Oct. 27 as the United Way of Aiken County celebrated its fundraising efforts with a Wizard of Oz theme.

Dressed as the Tin Man, campaign Chairman Bill Inman announced that the agency surpassed this year's fundraising goal of $2.4 million.

The campaign netted more than $2.5 million for the county's United Way agencies.

"We started this process back in February. It looked to be an insurmountable goal," Mr. Inman said. "Unfortunately, we had this situation with Avondale Mills. Their contribution was significant every year."

Mr. Inman was joined by fellow United Way members dressed as Oz characters to celebrate the campaign's success. They included the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, Glinda the Good Witch of the North, the Wicked Witch, Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz and various Munchkins.

"We assembled a strong team to make this happen," Mr. Inman said. "Now the agencies will go and do the job that they do to improve the quality of life in Aiken County."

Yellow bricks sporting the names of the United Way agencies were scattered around the floor.

Donations included $627,155 from the Individual Gifts Guild, $86,528 from the Government Guild, $63,780 from the Education Guild, more than $1 million from the Savannah River Site Division, $214,231 from the Community Business Guild and $108,922 from the Professional Division.

"There is no magical curtain and no mysterious Oz," said Munchkin Sharon Cormier, a United Way loan executive who works for Wackenhut Services Inc. "Everything we need is within ourselves."

Campaign first Vice Chairman Keith Wood, of Washington Savannah River Co., played the role of the Cowardly Lion.

"The Aiken community is so conspicuous in their generosity. How could I be afraid?" he said. "Until next year's skit."

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.


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