By Richard Rourk

The United Way of Unicoi County is off to a solid start in its annual campaign.

“We are approaching the 50 percent mark on our goal of $120,000,” United Way spokesperson Lynnsey Seagroves told The Erwin Record.

According to Seagroves, the United Way is still waiting for all of the partners to turn in the numbers so far. One partner has turned in the funds collected and it looks promising for the future.

“Pal’s in Erwin collected donations for us from Sept. 25-Oct. 8 and collected over $310,” Seagoves said.

This is the first year that Pal’s partnered with the United Way.

“This is a new partnership this year, and we’re so thankful for their support and our community’s generosity,” Seagroves said. “Pal’s efforts are proof that spare change can make a big impact.”

There are several other partners throughout Unicoi County that are accepting donations at their checkouts. Those businesses include the Plant Palace, Keesecker’s, Steel Rails Coffee House, Roller Pharmacy, Clinchfield Pharmacy, Baker’s Shoe Repair, Valley Beautiful Antique Mall, What’s the Scoop?, Hawg-n-Dawg, CHIPs Thrift Store and the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center. “We’d love for everyone to consider donating spare change if a box is spotted while they’re out in town,” Seagroves said. 

The donations go to support more than 22 local organizations.

“Through these agencies, $380,000 in United Way donations have impacted over 10,000 lives in Unicoi County over the last three years,” Seagroves told The Erwin Record.

The agencies include Unicoi County Public Library, Second Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Unicoi Shoe Fund, Unicoi County YMCA, Unicoi County 4-H Club, Contact 211 Ministries, Sequoyah Council, BSA, Monroe Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children, Children’s Advocacy Center of 1st Judicial District, Manna Storehouse, CHIPS Inc, Kiwanis Shopping Tour, Heritage Museum, Unicoi County Literacy Program, Unicoi County Student Backpack Program, Unicoi County Student Dental Program, Clinchfield Senior Adult Center, Tennessee Rehabilitation Center, Erwin Little League, and the Imagination Library. If more funds than expected come in, the United Way will help more organizations.

“We usually do more than our goal to help out more organizations, sometimes we are able to help up to 25 or more organizations,” Unicoi County United Way President Lee Brown told The Erwin Record in regards to past drives.

Pal’s becoming a partner wasn’t the only new addition to this year’s drive.

“Something else that’s new this year is our weekly ‘What United Way Means to Me’ features on our Facebook page,” according to Seagroves.

“What United Way Means to Me” is a way for organizations that have been supported by United Way to state the impact of the donations received.

“We’ve asked representatives from the agencies we support to share about how they’ve seen United Way donations make a difference firsthand and continued funding from the United Way is important,” said Seagroves. 

Going forward the United Way would love to see more stories on their Facebook page.

“We’d love for our community members to follow the Unicoi County United Way Facebook page and share these stories about how funding is making a difference in Unicoi County,” said Seagroves.

The campaign, which started on Sept. 25, runs through Dec. 6. If you would like to donate but can’t make it out to one of the locations in town, donations can be mailed anytime to Unicoi County United Way, PO Box 343, Erwin, TN 37650.

“Unicoi County United Way could not support these 22 worthy organizations without the generosity and support of our community and local businesses, and for that, we thank you,” Seagroves said.