The United Way kicks of its fundraising campaign with a goal of $1.3 million to help 36 agencies.
It's a collaborative effort as the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas are now united themselves.
Money stays in the community from which it came to benefit those non-profit organizations people see operating in their towns.
One organization that benefits is Joplin NALA - Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action - which uses volunteers to tutor those learning English as a second language or adults who need to learn to read. United Way funds help pay for meeting spaces and the salaries of those who coordinate the program.
At the Community Clinic, United Way funds directly help patients paying for medications, supplies and things like diabetes education tools.
United Way campaign coordinators say no matter what community organization is helping, the needs have a regional scope.
"We're looking at things focused on education, income and health care, and we want to really look how to get kids ready to succeed in school, look at raising-increasing access to good health care quality child care," says Kate Massey, the United Way Director of Community Impact. "We want to look at doing things to help families become financially stable in our region. So we're really looking across the board at new programs this year and hoping to fund fun programs to support those areas."
Pace-setter companies that turn in donations early are being asked to increase their fund drives by 8% to help United Way reach its higher goal this year.
Last year, United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas lowered its expectations for fundraising after the Joplin tornado, even though many of those partner agencies were needed more than ever in the tornado's aftermath.
This year United Way hopes to expand support across the board.