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Basic needs fund gets big boost from United Way kettle drive
The United Way of Southeast Missouri "kettle campaign" raised nearly $6,000 for its basic needs fund over the weekend, used to supplement costs for three area agencies that provide shelter, clothing, food and other necessities to members of the community during times of need.
"It was amazing how many people were so happy to give," director of development Holly Lintner said.
Executive director Nancy Jernigan said she was encouraged by the number of people who made contributions, which totaled $5,984.
"My heart was warmed -- at least 80 of 90 people that walked by me put something in," Jernigan said.
The money raised brings the basic needs funding up to $11,529.86, which will go to the Salvation Army, the Jackson Ministerial Alliances and the Scott City Ministerial Alliances.
Last year, United Way was able to give $75,000 to Salvation Army, $5,000 to the ministerial alliance in Jackson and $3,750 to the one in Scott City, Jernigan said.
Organizers hope to at least match those numbers this year, and they have until March to complete their fundraising, Jernigan said.
"There's a lot more need now than ever before," she said.
With more than 500 jobs lost in recent months in the four-county region served by United Way of Southeast Missouri, more people may seek assistance from these organizations, Jernigan said.
The Salvation Army reported an increase in clients, with 1,100 individuals who asked for first-time assistance in November, nearly double the 630 people served for the first time in November 2007.
In Jackson, the group has seen a 19 percent increase in families requesting food assistance over last year, and Scott City fielded requests from an additional 200 families seeking food around the holidays over the same time in 2007.
Charitable organizations have been seeing people coming in with needs they've never encountered before, she said.
"We've got to be there for them, because that's what a community does," Jernigan said.
If fundraising attempts fall short of the projected goal, she said some plans may be postponed, such as hiring extra case managers to help those struggling to keep steady employment.
With a new wave of people needing one-time assistance from these groups in the struggling economy, the United Way wants to avoid having a shortfall for the basic needs program, Jernigan said.
"It would be such a shame to have worked all these years, and to lose your job and just need a little bit of help, and have it not be there," she said.
The recent ice storm, which left thousands in Southeast Missouri without power for a prolonged period, may have helped the fundraising efforts because people were forced to seek help from organizations and may have been even more receptive to giving, Jernigan said.
Schnucks, Kidd's, West Park Mall customer service and First State Community Banks will collect donations to the United Way Basic Needs Fund through the end of February.
Donations can be sent to the United Way of Southeast Missouri, Basic Needs Fund, 430A Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701, or given online at www.unitedwayofsemo.org.
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