The Campaign for Charities is underway at UGA to collect pledges and money for local, state and national charitable organizations.
The motto for this year's campaign is "Ready, Set, Give."
The Campaign for Charities, which runs until Dec. 14, is an opportunity for faculty and staff to donate to a variety of charitable organizations that are part of the State Charitable Contributions Program, including United Way charities, federated charity organizations and independent organizations. Many of the organizations are engaged in the local community.
Success for the campaign depends on participation from a large section of the university community.
The campaign goal this year is $425,000 with a 25 percent giving participation rate from UGA employees. That target would exceed last year's total of $403,000 with a 19 percent giving participation rate.
"The real reason to participate in the campaign this year is not just to raise our giving totals, the real motivation for all of us is to unite as a university family in order to help our neighbors in need," said Stefanie Lindquist, honorary campaign chair and dean of the School of Public and International Affairs, at the campaign kickoff breakfast.
This year's kickoff breakfast highlighted the work of Athens-based charity Books for Keeps, which promotes literacy in Athens-Clarke County schools. The organization gives books to students each spring to halt summer slide, the learning loss suffered by many children when they are away from school.
Since 2009, Books for Keeps has given more than 185,000 books to children from low-income families in grades pre-K through 12. Books for Keeps founder Melaney Smith, a UGA graduate who spoke at the kickoff, announced plans to expand the program to 15 more schools, including seven in Athens. She encouraged UGA employees to be a part of that growth through giving in the campaign or seeking volunteer opportunities.
UGA employees will receive materials about this year's campaign through campus mail. Faculty and staff can make pledges through payroll deductions or give one-time contributions to individual or multiple charities by filling out the campaign card or by visiting the campaign website. The campaign materials also include a full list of participating charities; that list is on the website, too.
All UGA employees are encouraged to return a campaign card by campus mail or online. Those cards and donation amounts are anonymous.
For those who participate in this year's campaign, the university will hold weekly drawings beginning in November for prizes such as parking credits, golf packages, athletic tickets and bookstore gift cards.
UGA has a proud tradition of hosting successful Campaign for Charities drives.
Donations to the university's Campaign for Charities have topped $400,000 for nine consecutive years. For 17 years straight, UGA has won the Governor's Cup for the highest contribution per employee for a state agency of more than 9,000 employees.