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Effingham Magazine

Giving Back This Season in the Effingham Community

Giving Back This Season in the Effingham Community

Story by Katie Feindel


The holidays are a great time to celebrate all the blessings we have received throughout the year. But what about the less fortunate—especially during the holiday season?

Good news! There are so many Effingham County charities that are “giving back” this holiday season. We did some research and found the best way to support that effort is not to give to multiple charities but to contact United Way of the Coastal Empire. They serve four counties, including Effingham County. Their mission is to, “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities.” They act as somewhat of a liaison and 100% of what you donate goes straight back into the community.

This year United Way of the Coastal Empire partnered with multiple charities including Manna House Ministries and The Salvation Army.

Empowering People

Kim Dennis, Area Director for the United Way of the Coastal Empire has been affiliated with United Way in one way or another for nearly 25 years. She loves her job, and the most rewarding part is knowing that these resources are more than providing a temporary fix.

“Our areas of focus are providing a safety net in times of need, helping people out of rough spots. But we are also here to empower people. Just like teaching a man to fish gives him the ability to help himself, we are here to improve lives. We look for holes in services in our community and we assist other nonprofits with those holes,” says Kim.

What great concepts and an outstanding history of giving back to the community!

Partnering Nonprofits

This year, partnering nonprofits include The Salvation Army, The Empty Stocking Fund, Ready2CONNECT, Inc., Family Promise, Churches United, area schools and of course Manna House Ministries. They all provide assistance to the community of Effingham County.

Manna House Ministries

We spoke with Lisa Bush, Executive Director of Manna House Ministries in Rincon. Lisa has an amazing story of how she got to her place at Manna House. She grew up in a family who served and volunteered so she’s been volunteering for years.

“I began volunteering in 1999 with my children and fell in love with everything...It really came natural for me to give back.”

Lisa was appointed the Executive Director in 2007 and says, “What keeps me going every day is the volunteers and groups and clients and customers have been a part of my life for many years. I’m always amazed by the donors who step up to meet needs.

Lisa sings the praises of many in the community and how they contribute to the less fortunate.

“We have a great team of volunteers and staff that keep everything running smoothly!”

In November, Manna House Ministries distributed 800 Boxes of Hope providing Thanksgiving food items for families in need. They also plan to provide Christmas assistance as well.

Giving Back

How can we “give back” this season? Not just out of compassion, but out of gratitude for all the blessings we have received in 2022.

Lisa believes in a few core ways to “give back.” The first way is to give your time and volunteer. Volunteers are so important and for many charities, volunteers are literally the motor of the process, and without them, the vehicle of generosity wouldn’t run.

Next, think about donating food or resources.

Finally, Lisa encourages the community to the thrift shop. “We always encourage our community to support our thrift shop by shopping to end hunger! Every dollar generated helps provide meals for those in need. Store hours are every Thursday & second Saturday 9:00 am-2:00 pm. We love to open more—but it requires more volunteers, Come join us!”

The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer but there are many hurting single people and families that need your help. Clearly, there is no question that there is a great need for us to “give back” during the holidays, but a lot of these nonprofits rely on year-round giving.

But, if in December you are looking for a place to do your year-end charitable giving, please go on the United Way website at and see how you can give. As Kim Dennis says, “We keep a database of families, so the charities don’t duplicate efforts. We are the ‘connector’ between agencies. We believe in keeping communication open and in full collaboration. We literally “unite” them.


United Way of the Coastal Empire Partnering Nonprofits

•          The Salvation Army

•          The Empty Stocking Fund

•          Ready2CONNECT, Inc

•          Family Promise

•          Churches United

•          Manna House Ministries

•          Area Schools