By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Two hundred people gathered Friday for the United Way of Northeast Mississippi’s Day of Caring awards celebration and breakfast at Elkin Place in Fairpark.
And they had a lot to celebrate. The group recently completed its 2012 campaign, surpassing its $2.3 million goal and raising more than $2.4 million.
“The spirit of giving is alive and well in north Mississippi,” said Buddy Montgomery, 2012 board president.
He thanked the many individual donors and volunteers who support the organization, and he also thanked the many businesses that “open their pocket books” and organize volunteer opportunities among their employees.
On Friday, groups from more than 25 businesses sent out teams to partner organizations around the community to complete special projects. Philips (formerly Philips Day-Brite) had employees participating on five different teams.
Darrell Hink, manager of certifications and the electric lab at Philips, said the company gives two paid days to employees who want to volunteer their time in the area. The company, with some 500 employees, will donate up to 8,000 volunteer hours this year, he said.
Hink was part of a group that installed doors for secure cabinets and painted restrooms for the new Tupelo Autism Center facility on Thomas Street. It opens Monday.
“This is amazing that people have come in and helped us,” said Sharon Boudreaux, the center’s executive director. “We were in desperate need.”
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi had three teams and donated $35,000 on Friday. Toyota was recognized as having the best first-year employee campaign at the awards breakfast.
Southern Motion, Lane Furniture, Norbord, ITW Paslode and North Mississippi Medical Center also were recognized for their support. NMMC also was recognized for being the single largest donor to the United Way chapter.
The campaign volunteer of the year award recipient was former board president Chauncy Godwin Jr., who was recognized for his work on the 2012 fundraising campaign.
Shane Hooper earned the organization’s J.G. Berry award for his work.