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Shawauna Smith of Mansfield poses for a photo in her new Chevy Trailblazer.

MANSFIELD -- Shawauna Smith wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. The mother of four stood smiling, but dazed, in front of her new car.

Smith was the winner of this year's "Win a 2022 Chevy Trailblazer" raffle fundraiser for United Way of Richland County. The all-wheel drive SUV was donated by Graham Chevrolet of Mansfield.

Smith purchased six tickets for $100. All of the proceeds from the raffle go to United Way.

“I wanted to help people. I didn’t really think I would win a car,” Smith said. “This is like a dream.”

Smith, 43, is a lifelong Mansfield resident. Her youngest son, Chase Simmons, tagged along to pick up his mom's new ride.

"I'm happy," the 13-year-old said. "She deserves it."

Smith said she's been working on getting her credit score up so she can replace her old car, which is 11 years old and far past its prime. 

"I've never had a new car," she said. “I'm not gonna get stuck anywhere or break down. I'm not gonna have a flat tire. I'm not gonna have to fix something on it and spend more money.”

The fundraiser generated more than $17,000, according to United Way of Richland County Executive Director Dan Varn. 

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Dan Varn, executive director of United Way of Richland County, hands the keys to a new Chevy Trailblazer to raffle winner Shawauna Smith of Mansfield. 

“We want to thank Graham Chevrolet and Ken Williams for this generous donation,” Varn said. “The dollars that are being raised through this program are going to impact the lives of so many individuals throughout our community.”

Williams, vice president of Graham Chevrolet, said the dealership is proud to support United Way’s work in Richland County.

"It really warms my heart that it goes out to Richland County people," Williams said. "That's what we're all about, keeping it in the county."

It's the second year in a row that Graham Chevrolet and United Way have partnered for the giveaway. Last year's winner was Shannon Hatfield, manager of The Domestic Violence Shelter.

The 1,000 tickets went much faster this time around, nearly selling out in the first three months of the fundraiser.

United Way will conclude its centennial fundraising campaign with its annual dinner on March 15. The organization has reached about 90 percent of its $1.4 million target.

"We're getting close," campaign chair Scott King said. "There's still a little bit of work to do, but this has been a very big help. I can't say thanks enough to Ken and his team.” 

United Way ensures funds raised are invested wisely in programs across the county. Volunteer allocations teams review fundraising requests, conduct program site visits, evaluate program outcomes and ensure community needs are being met. The agency also monitors all dollars granted to ensure funds are truly impacting the community.

United Way provides funding to more than a dozen partner agencies in Richland County, including the local American Red Cross Chapter, Catalyst Life Services, Catholic Charities, the Domestic Violence Shelter, Friendly House, Harmony House Homeless Services, Third Street Family Health Services and more. 

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at katie@richlandsource.com