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SAVANNAH, GA (April 30, 2020)WTOC-TV put out a call to action, and the Coastal Empire responded in a big way. Thanks to the generosity of more than 350 individuals and companies, WTOC Day of Giving virtual telethon raised $209,000 for United Way of the Coastal Empire’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. While phone lines are now closed, donations can still be made by visiting uwce.org.

United Way COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will be used to:

  1. Help families and individuals 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.
  2. Provide emergency funding to United Way’s partner agencies with a demonstrated increase in demand for services due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“On any given day, United Way is about helping people in need and investing in high-performing non-profit organizations,” said Vice President and General Manager of WTOC-TV and United Way Chairman of the Board, Larry Silbermann. “WTOC is proud to be able to lend a hand and provide resources to support our community in such a critical time. We are also grateful for every single person who made a donation during this virtual telethon and extended their hands to help others in need.”

Through the 211 call center and community service centers in Bryan, Effingham, and Liberty Counties, United Way has been connecting citizens with resources that can help them through struggles related to COVID-19. Since March 24, the organization has received more than 13,000 calls – 8 times the amount of calls from the prior month. The greatest needs of the community primarily are housing, food, and utilities related.

“No one knows how long this pandemic will last, nor how long the economic recovery will take. We do know that every dollar we raise through this fund is going out to support people who have lost their jobs and need help until they can work again. This is the biggest crisis we have ever seen, and Chatham County is getting hit a bit harder than others,” said United Way President and CEO Brynn Grant. “Unemployment has soared to historic levels — with 91 % of the accommodations and foodservice industry workforce laid off in our metropolitan statistical area.”

The Rapid Response Fund began collecting donations on March 24 and has raised nearly $500,000 to date. These donations have come through the WTOC Day of Giving telethon, online donations, and generous contributions from individuals and organizations including CareSource, Chatham Foundation, Colonial Group, JE Dunn Construction, Gulfstream Aerospace, The Savannah Community Foundation, South State Bank, Sterling Seacrest Partners, Truist Foundation, Wells Fargo, and Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church.

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.

United Way of the Coastal Empire sincerely thanks WTOC-TV and its dedicated team for giving their time and resources to raise this much-needed funds for our neighbors who need it most during this global crisis. You may continue giving to United Way COVID-19 by visiting uwce.org or text UWCOVID19 to 41444.

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