VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta City School System family loves helping others through their annual Caring Adults Representing Education (CARE) campaign.

During the 2001-2002 school year, the system's more than 900 employees raised more than $38,000 for the United Way of Lowndes County, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association. This year that total is expected to surpass the $42,000 mark.

"This will be our biggest campaign ever," said Janeen Josey, systemwide campaign coordinator. "This has been a good year for us."

At present, these "caring adults" have contributed $37,531. Josey said that number will rise by about $5,000 at the conclusion of the system's annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.

"We truly have a system full of caring individuals," Josey added. "Almost all of our employees give something."

For the CARE Campaign, the school system is divided into 13 different groups representing Valdosta High School, J. L. Newbern Middle School, Valdosta Middle School, Southeast Elementary Schools, West Gordon Elementary School, Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School, S. L. Mason Elementary School, Sallas-Mahone Elementary School, W. G. Nunn Elementary School, Special Education, School Nutrition, Transportation, and Central Office.

Six of those groups had 100 percent participation during the 2002-2003 CARE Campaign, which runs during the first two to three weeks of the school year, Josey said. They are Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School, Sallas-Mahone Elementary School, Southeast Elementary School, Special Education, Valdosta Middle School, and West Gordon Elementary.

The group that had the most improved giving was the system's Transportation Department, Josey added. In 2001-2002, these employees contributed $822. This year that number climbed to $2,083.

The largest donation to the system's 2002-2003 CARE Campaign came from Valdosta High School, whose employees contributed $4,750. The system's Special Education Department had the highest per capita giving with $139.54.

Josey said each person can dictate how his or her donation is to be divided among the three organizations. Donations can be one-time contributions or regular payroll deducations, Josey added.

The system started its CARE Campaign in 1990. At that time, Josey said, all of the city school employees were surveyed to determine which three organizations the campaign would benefit.

CARE Campaign coordinators include Valdosta High School's Narci Drossos, J. L. Newbern Middle School's Hasnah Childs, Valdosta Middle School's Sherrill Napier, Southeast Elementary School's Ellena Moore, West Gordon Elementary School's Elizabeth Raque, Lomax-Pinevale Elementary School's Linda Sermons, S. L. Mason Elementary School's Penny Shenton, Sallas-Mahone Elementary School's Resa Harris, W. G. Nunn Elementary School's Anne Cardella, Special Education's Scarlet Correll, School Nutrition's Belinda Griffin, Transportation's Doris Callaway, and Central Office's Terry DeCoudres.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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