By Johnny Jackson
With more than $1 million in donations, Georgia Power and The Salvation Army are calling an effort to help those in need a success.
Through November of this year, 41,282 Georgia Power customers contributed to the effort to help the needy, and prevent homelessness, through Project Share, according to Carol Boatright, a Georgia Power spokeswoman. When matched by Georgia Power, she said, Project Share will receive more than $2 million for the year.
More than $50 million has been raised through The Salvation Army's Project Share partnership with Georgia Power since its inception in 1985, said Boatright.
Project Share provides help to individuals, and families, who need help paying their electric bills and purchasing other necessities. It has helped millions of Georgians over the years, said Lafeea Watson, a spokeswoman for The Salvation Army.
The 25-year-old Project Share program is the brainchild of Neely Young, an advisory board member of The Atlanta Board for the Salvation Army. It continues to exist thanks to donations made by Georgia Power customers through the company's electric-bill-paying process, said Maj. Jim Seiler, Atlanta area commander for The Salvation Army.
Seiler said Georgia Power matches its customers' contributions dollar for dollar, and forwards the funds to area Salvation Army Corps Community Centers. Then, the funds are distributed to those who apply for emergency assistance in paying for basic necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, and electric bills.
"Project Share has been amazingly helpful," Seiler said. "Here we are, 25 years later, and it is just an amazing thing."
Seiler said the program has been one of The Salvation Army's most efficient ways to combat homelessness.
"It enables us to keep [needy families] in their home," Seiler said. "It's usually an event like someone falling ill, or losing a job ... that causes people to struggle and fall into homelessness. The most efficient way for us to care for homeless issues is to avoid them altogether.
"One of the beautiful things about Project Share is that the funds are used in the county in which they are raised," he continued. "Your dollars go to work right in your own backyard, truly neighbors helping neighbors."
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