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SAVANNAH, GA (May 29, 2020) – United Way of the Coastal Empire has received a $100,000 contribution, the largest by far, to its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund from The Chatham Foundation. Every dollar of this donation will be used to help individuals and families in the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s four-county region retain stable housing by assisting with rent, mortgage, and utility payments when grace periods are not offered and to provide financial assistance for additional critical needs such as medical expenses and child care. Additionally, United Way continues to support partner agencies, especially those that demonstrate an increase in demand for services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re grateful to receive this leadership gift to the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund through the generosity of the Oxnard and the Sprague families who represent The Chatham Foundation,” said Larry Silbermann, Vice President and General Manager of WTOC-TV and Chairman of the Board of the United Way of the Coastal Empire. “Their strong and loyal commitment to our community will certainly bring relief to many individuals and families during this difficult time.”

The Oxnard and the Sprague families have long been leaders in the Coastal Empire. The families founded Savannah Food and Industries, maker of the well-known brand of Dixie Crystals Sugar, among others. After more than 50 years of operation, the company was acquired by Imperial Sugar in 1997 and by Louis Dreyfus Company in 2012. Although the families are no longer in the sugar business, their deeply-rooted commitment to the well-being of the community remains strong. With the help of several members of the Blanco family in later years, The Chatham Foundation continues to lead through giving in good times and bad, today and always.

“We understand Savannah Foods and Industries was actively involved in the creation of the United Way, then called the Community Chest, more than 80 years ago. Mr. Thomas Oxnard served as board chair in 1947. To have these families stand up to support the community today through our Rapid Response Fund is very meaningful,” shared Brynn Grant, President and CEO of United Way of the Coastal Empire.

“United Way of the Coastal Empire was created for the community by the community, to support and serve in good times and bad. This pandemic has been a challenge but we were built for this and we are grateful for The Chatham Foundation’s continued partnership in our work.”

As a grantor to 53 of the highest performing and most impactful nonprofit agencies in our region, the United Way of the Coastal Empire was designed to deliver community resources where and when they are most needed. Funds raised during the typical fall fundraising campaign help ensure a safety net of social services exists throughout the year to provide for the long-term stability of the region. During a crisis, the organization strategically manages awards to United Way agencies and delivers direct services to individuals and families to promote resiliency.

United Way established the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund in March. To date, nearly $600,000 has been raised to help those in need since the coronavirus pandemic began. “From this incredible $100,000 contribution to an online gift of $10, every gift counts, and every gift matters in our collective efforts to recover and rebuild,” said Grant.

United Way of the Coastal Empire will distribute 100% of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to families to retain stable housing and provide emergency funding to its partner agencies. Any funds remaining after the pandemic will be allocated to the United Way’s general emergency relief fund. The emergency relief fund allows the organization to respond immediately to critical, emerging needs like those surrounding a hurricane or natural disaster.

To give to the United Way COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, visit or text UWCOVID19 to 41444.

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