September 25--  The United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties kicked off its 2014 campaign Wednesday with a rally at the Vidalia First Baptist Church.

Campaign chairwoman Angie McDaniel says the goal this year is $500,500 to help those who need it the most in the three counties.

"It's everyday people that we're helping.  It's really important because it could be your friend, your neighbor or co-worker, you just never know.  We have so many great organizations in this community.  One great thing about the United Way is that your donation helps 22 different agencies and you can't do that with anything else," she said.

Those attending the kickoff heard examples of United Way assistance to area families and Executive Director Patricia Dixon says their testimony exemplifies what she hears everyday in the United Way office.

"I think it's real important that we put a face on what we're doing here in our community and that you see how local people are being helped.  That way you realize that the money that we raise stays here.  Ninety-nine percent of what we raise stays here and we take care of our community," she said.

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The campaign is off to a good start with Pacemakers already reporting contributions.

Trane reported $66,872, Dot Foods $45,630, Vidalia City Schools $13,000, Vidalia Ford $10,000, Ameris Bank $5,685,  and Oxford $5,558.

Some event fundraisers also reported in with $13,400 from Dancing For the Stars, $11,000 from the golf tournament and $2,500 from the Sweet Onion Century Bike Ride.

McDaniel says that amounts to 35% of the goal.