Government shutdown didn't stop charitable giving

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 5:01 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 4:28 AM
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Despite the government screeching to a halt this fall, many federal workers and contractors didn’t stop giving to area charitable campaigns.

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Dee Motley sands a painted chair at the Augusta Training Shop. The charitable organization receives funds from the United Way.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Dee Motley sands a painted chair at the Augusta Training Shop. The charitable organization receives funds from the United Way.

Worries that the 16-day federal government shutdown would threaten donations to the annual United Way of the CSRA campaign were unwarranted, said Rina Powell, the senior director of resource development for the United Way of the CSRA. Although some campaigns coincided with the October shutdown when many workers were furloughed, most of the United Way’s largest workplace contributors met their goals.

“When we were going through the shutdown, federal organizations slowed down a bit but they picked right back up,” Powell said.

The United Way of the CSRA set a $4.15 million fundraising goal in late August. The organization provides funding for 44 programs in 23 area agencies.

Fort Gordon, which participates in the United Way through the Combined Federal Campaign, has not yet reached its goal. The military installation implemented furloughs during the summer because of sequestration and again in October during the government shutdown.

About 75 percent of the $400,000 goal was met when the campaign ended Nov. 29, said public affairs chief J.C. Mathews. The military installation extended its collection period through February, when the United Way of the CSRA campaign concludes.

“The majority of reasons heard is the budget uncertainties of the last year,” Mathews said. “People are being cautious. We know we do not have a budget for next year, which makes possible the serious effects of sequestration.”

As many of its workplace contributors wrap-up collections, Powell said the organization should meet its goal by the campaign’s end on Feb. 25. About 30 percent has been realized.

“We will meet the goal but it’s definitely going to take everyone’s support,” she said.

Savannah River Remediation, which held its campaign in June and July, raised $292,050 for area United Way agencies. About $94,000 was given to the United Way of the CSRA and the remainder to sister groups in several area counties.

SRR hoped to raise about $300,000 but spokesman Dean Campbell said September layoffs and October furloughs did not have a direct impact on the employer’s campaign.

“We knew during the summer our budget issues and potential workforce restructuring could be on the horizon,” he said. “Our employees were very generous.”

Savannah River Site’s largest contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, raised more than $1 million during its United Way campaign. The money helps nine United Way agencies in area counties.

The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center’s workforce was not affected by the government shutdown. Employee donations exceeded the hospital’s $120,000 goal even before the campaign ended, said spokesman Peter Scovill.

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