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Lending a hand

The Heart of Missouri United Way campaign launches with support from the University of Missouri

Sept. 10, 2020

This is a photo of Jim Spain.

MU Vice Provost Jim Spain is co-chair of the 2020 Heart of Missouri United Way community campaign.

The Heart of Missouri United Way will launch its 2020 Virtual Community Campaign Kick Off and Day of Caring at 10 a.m. Friday to raise money for a multitude of community causes. The University of Missouri will join the effort later this month when it begins its annual campaign on Sept. 28.

Andrew Grabau, executive director at Heart of Missouri United Way, said the need for contributions is high this year because of the pandemic-induced hardships experienced by many members of the community. He said Mizzou plays a big role in supporting the United Way each year. Last year, the MU United Way campaign raised $436,925.

“We are all one community. We have to do this together,” Grabau said. “We work really hard to raise awareness and to mobilize the power in our community to raise funds to address inequity.”

The virtual launch can be seen on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook: @HeartofMissouriUnitedWay; Instagram: @UWHeartMO; LinkedIn: Heart of Missouri United Way; Twitter: @UWHeartMO; and YouTube: @HeartofMissouriUW.

“MU’s campaign and our investment is significantly important because of the size and scale of our footprint in the community,” said Jim Spain, the Heart of Missouri United Way’s community campaign co-chair and MU’s vice provost for undergraduate studies and eLearning.

For this year’s campaign kickoff and Day of Caring, local businesses and organizations will assemble children’s literacy kits and adult care kits for distribution. The social media campaign will also feature a panel discussion with community leaders and presentations by local businesses.

“A big priority is how we address cycles of poverty in our community, which are significant here in Boone County,” Spain said.

The pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues facing those living in poverty, and the local agency has already stepped in to help. For example, more than 50% of children in Columbia Public Schools qualify for free or reduced lunch. After the pandemic halted in-person schooling this spring, the Heart of Missouri United Way provided funding for bus services to operate and provide meals to those in need.

Spain said many of those who benefit from the Heart of Missouri United Way are MU families as the university is a large employer of the community.

“Especially in response to the global pandemic and the financial impact that’s had on the local economy, a lot of people are relying on the safety nets that were already in place because of the infrastructure the United Way has been developing and investing in,” Spain said.

Contributions stay local within the community as the Heart of Missouri United Way distributes the funds to local agencies and organizations. The local agency seeks to empower children, families, individuals and seniors in times of need. The local United Way does this by investing in 42 essential programs and services offered by 31 local partner agencies across these three key areas: health and basic needs, education and financial stability.

To support this year’s United Way Virtual Community Campaign, donate online.

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