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The Forsyth Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is open for membership to any woman at least 16 years old who is a blood descendent of any man or woman who served honorably in the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America. For more information on membership, contact Elaine Zimney at (770) 781-5255, (770) 331-5691, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy recently took home 17 awards at the group’s division conference in Valdosta.
President Elaine Zimney said many of the honors focused on membership.
"We had a 46 percent increase in our membership this year," Zimney said.
She said the group, known as Col. Hiram Parks Bell Chapter 2641, formed in Forsyth County in 2004 with about a dozen members. Today, there are 22.
Zimney said the national organization was begun in 1894 by women who felt Confederate veterans, who were aging at the time, should be taken care of.
"A lot of the Confederate monuments were also built as a result of the UDC, because the women wanted to honor the veterans," Zimney said.
"Another goal of the organization was to provide funding for the children of Confederate veterans so they could be educated."
Zimney said those goals continue today, only now the UDC honors veterans from all wars.
"We visit veterans at several of the local nursing homes. We’ve had parties for them over the years," Zimney said.
The chapter also sponsors soldiers serving in the Middle East.
"We send boxes of goodies to them," Zimney said. "We send snacks, cookies, books they like to read, that sort of thing."
As for children’s projects, the national organization offers several scholarships each year to descendants of Confed-
Locally, Zimney said the group often goes into schools to teach children about the roles of women and children in the 1860s South. It holds an annual essay contest for fifth- through 12th-graders.
"We’re trying to build our local educational fund to provide scholarships," Zimney said.
Each April, the local chapter holds a Confederate Memorial Day ceremony at Zion Hill Baptist Church cemetery, where about a dozen Confederate soldiers are buried.
"We had about 125 people there last year," Zimney said. "This year, it will be on April 21."
During that ceremony, she added, veterans from all 20th century conflicts are honored.
"We give several medals recognizing service men and women," she said.
The chapter collects canned goods for The Place of Forsyth County and has held raffles for various nonprofits. Members also gather toys for the children of single mothers in need during the holidays.
"We’re always willing to support any organization," Zimney said. "We’re here to contribute to society while keeping the tradition of caring for descendants of Confed-
erate soldiers alive."
Zimney stressed the group is not political, a frequent misconception.
"People sometimes think we’re here to re-fight the war, but that’s just not true at all," she said. "We just want to be active in our community just like any other service group, and help people understand what we’re really all about."