VALDOSTA -- With a goal of $1.2 million and less than two weeks left in the 2004-05 campaign, United Way of Lowndes County officials remain hopeful.

Hoping to keep things going strong are RTG Media's Scott James, a radio personality with radio station WWRQ, "Rock 108," and Shari Crim, a devoted friend of Valdosta. For the eighth consecutive year, the two have gone to great heights for their annual Roof Sit, which benefits the United Way of Lowndes County. They have been on top of The Home Depot on Norman Drive since 6 a.m. Friday morning and will remain there until 6 tonight, a 36-hour stretch.

"We are going to make it this year," said James, standing on the roof. "Things are going good."

With Crim, who traveled from Mississippi just for the event, by his side, he is confident the roof sit will reach its goal of $5,000.

In early November, Georgia Power Co.'s Leigh Tolbert, campaign chairwoman, said the United Way of Lowndes County reached 60 percent of its goal. This time last year, the organization was standing at 40 percent.

Nicole Holder, executive director of the United Way of Lowndes County, said, "Things are going very well. We have raised over $910,000. That's 76 percent of our goal. We are very optimistic. We believe we are going to make it. It's exciting. "

Holder said 27 agencies and 117 programs desperately need for the United Way of Lowndes County climb to 100 percent. She said they depend on the United Way of Lowndes County's annual campaign for survival. This includes Camp Relitso, Children's Advocacy Center, Community Soup Kitchen, The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Valdosta Community Day Care Center, and Moody Relocation Assistance and Youth Center.

In a previous interview, Capt. Eileen Farrell with The Salvation Army said she is hopeful the 2005 United Way of Lowndes County campaign does well. She said the funds received make a difference in the lives of Valdosta and Lowndes County's needy population.

"It means that literally hundreds of families will be helped," she added.

Funds are used by The Salvation Army to offer emergency rent, utility, prescription, clothing and furniture assistance. During the month of July, Farrell said 121 cases were handled by the organization. Of those, 62 were first-time requests. In August, 141 cases were handled, with 82 of them being first-timers.

The Salvation Army also maintains a men's shelter and offers programs for local youth, GED classes, and disaster relief services. Everything is done at no cost to those in need.

"This community has such an incredible need," Farrell said. "We see such a large number of people each month. However, the money runs out before we can help them all. Our phones ring off the hook. It's overwhelming to have to turn people away."

James and Crim encourage others to stop by The Home Depot today and drop a donation in the bucket. Roof Sit T-shirts are available for a $10 donation. This year the event also features ongoing entertainment for children and adults. Those who cannot get to The Home Depot today can mail their check or money order to The United Way of Lowndes County, P. O. Box 925, Valdosta, Ga. 31603.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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