Clemson raises more than $120,000 for United Way: How one department went “all in” for the annual campaign

February 18, 2019

By Jackie Todd, University Relations

Greg Mullen knows a lot about the good that United Way does in a community. The Clemson University police chief saw that firsthand when he served on the organization’s board of directors in the city of Charleston, where he spent 11 years as police chief.

“Through that experience, I was able to see the remarkable programs supported by United Way,” he said. “One of my favorites was the Backpack Buddies program that provides nutritious foods in backpacks for children to take home on the weekends. Otherwise, these children, who are enrolled in free- or reduced-lunch programs, probably wouldn’t have eaten over the weekend. When the children return to school on Mondays, they bring their backpacks with them and they get replenished.”

The Lowcountry has seen its share of tragedy in recent years. When calamity broke a community, the United Way was there to help pick up the pieces.

“During a couple of significant events that I was involved in while working in Charleston that were difficult in our community, the United Way stepped up and helped out with connections to mental health assistance, counseling and a number of other community services,” said Mullen. “They worked with us to make sure that we were helping community members to pair with the resources to assist them through some really traumatic and horrific incidents. That just really helped me to recognize that group has a significant impact in the community and that many people don’t understand what they do, how they do it and the fact that it does help so many people.”

Pic of CUPD Sergeant Jeffrey Elrod

CUPD Sergeant Jeffrey Elrod participated in the No Shave November fundraiser.

Those experiences helped the chief understand the many facets United Way’s impact. So when the organization began its company campaign at Clemson last fall, Mullen knew he wanted to help. And he made it fun through several creative fundraisers:

  • No Shave November allowed police officers who contributed to United Way to dispense with their razors until the end of the campaign.
  • Lunch with the Chief was part of a silent auction where donors made a $5 donation. Two winners will have lunch with Mullen at a restaurant of their choosing.
  • The Echo Raffle was a result of a donation to the CUPD. Officers and staff who participated had a chance to win an Amazon Echo.
  • The Guess How Many M&Ms contest challenged participants to calculate the number of M&Ms in a container. Spoiler Alert: There were 1,087. The winner guessed 1,075.

Whether it was through payroll deduction or participation in the fundraisers, nearly everyone in CUPD contributed to the campaign – even donors who had never participated in the past.

“I’m very proud of all the folks here in the organization and the way they responded to all the different things that we did,” Mullen said. “I think by having the silent actions and contests and actually bringing everybody together to announce the winners of the contests, it made it an organizational effort.”

All in all, more than 400 Clemson faculty and staff contributed to the 2018-19 United Way campaign. The more-than-$120,000 pledged will go to employees’ home communities across the state and will support programs and services that impact lives in the areas of education, financial stability, health and community basic needs.

“I want to thank the faculty and staff who stepped forward to generously share their personal resources to help make our local communities a better place,” said United Way campaign chair Monte Lee. “The Clemson Family is a generous group that always gives to help those in need. And this year was no different.”

Mullen is also grateful to his department and the Clemson Family for their support. Participation in the United Way campaign, is not only about giving to a cause, it’s about building a community.

“It’s clearly what we’re trying to build at CUPD in terms of a culture where it’s not just about us as individuals, he said. “We’re here to help create a community on campus, and also support others in the larger Clemson area who can use a little help.”


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