MCG donors send more to local charities in 2011

Augusta’s charities will get a boost this year, thanks to MCG employees.

The amount of money donated, per person, to the State Charitable Contributions Program rose over the amount donated last year, according to a preliminary account by Joel Smith, Human Resources employee services coordinator.

Last year, employees gave an average of $71 each. This year, they gave an average of $122 per person. One of the charities getting a boost is the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta, which provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little or no cost. MCG employees donated $5,414 to the organization, enough to cover about 69 nights of housing for families.

“That’s important because it directly impacts the Children’s Medical Center patients and their families,” said Smith, who spearheads the SCCP campaign every year.

Betts Murdison, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Augusta, said that 95 percent of the families she sees have children who are being treated at MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center. And that means that MCG employees’ contributions go right back into the care they provide.

“The money goes straight into our operating budget, so it is used to offset the cost of a family’s stay here,” Murdison said. It costs the house about $79 a night to host a family, and the house asks for a donation of $20 a night from families. In reality, they receive an average of $2-$3 per night.

Most families, strapped by travel and the cost of medical care, pay nothing. The organization housed 1,079 adults and 432 children in 2009, and 82 percent of those visitors live more than 100 miles away from Augusta.

This is the second year that the organization has been on the giving list, and Murdison says that was due to the urging of Dr. Charles Howell.

“He was adamant that his donations stay in Augusta,” she said.

The SCCP campaign was completed in four weeks instead of eight, this year. Smith credits the success of the campaign to unit coordinators, volunteers who spearhead the efforts in assigned areas on campus.

“My unit coordinators really stepped up to the plate. The Cancer Center went from 2 percent participation in pledging to more than 75 percent pledging this year,” Smith said.

And the campaign is still open. Although the big push happens for four weeks, Smith said that people can give all year long.

“We’ll take money for charity any time you want to give us some,” he said.

The minimum amount to give via payroll deduction is $1 per month, or $12 per year. Visit mcg.edu/sccp or contact Smith at 706-721-0343 or sccp@mcg.edu.

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