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We're Halfway There!

I’m continuously amazed by this community.

At last year’s kickoff event three partner agencies were chosen by volunteers to pitch mini-grant ideas to a room full of United Way donors. The introduction to this concept was a huge success, with 150 individuals contributing $2500 during lunch; so we decided to try it again in 2018.

The guidelines for the process are pretty simple: the maximum amount rewarded per project is $1,000 with the understanding the project would be an extension of or complement to the initiative United Way already funds. Additionally, last year’s recipients couldn’t apply for the same project.

Safe House for Women was this year’s first presenting partner. With their $1,000 grant, they’re hoping to provide “safe phones” to their shelter clients. The program is currently funded through Verizon, but is scheduled to end in December.

The Safe House clients utilize these phones to contact social service agencies, employers, and additional resources to help them through the process of transitioning out of the shelter.

Boy Scouts of America continues to collaborate with other organizations in Southeast Missouri. Their previous mini-grant launched a troop at Jefferson Elementary School. Now they’re hoping to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri to bring Scouting to their after-school and summer programs.

In addition to providing students with outdoors and service experiences, Scouts proudly incorporates various STEM activities into their curriculum. These skills and experiences are ones that many at-risk youth in our community are not otherwise provided.

Finally, First Call for Help and the Community Caring Council sought funding to aid families in our community who are going through difficult times.

The Family Transition Team consists of caseworkers from our partner organizations and others who come together when all other resource options have been explored. The group ensures that clients who may need a hand up, like steel-toed work boots to begin a new job or eyeglasses to complete an application, are able to resolve their issues without further stress.

Over the last year, United Way of Southeast Missouri has been able to touch the lives of nearly 33,000 individuals, children, and senior citizens in our community. But the need doesn’t end there. The mini-grant program is our way of helping partners get a jump start on new initiatives that can further their reach and go beyond the goals of their original programming guidelines.

At Thursday’s kickoff luncheon, we were able to raise half of the $3,000 needed to fund all three initiatives mentioned above. Will you join our fight by donating just $10? Click here to make your pledge now. Thank you for Living United.

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Last year, over 150 United Way supporters came together to raise $2,500 in less than 30 minutes. The results? Three new local programs that helped nearly 200 area youth.

Boy Scouts of America presented a proposal to donors to start a pack at Jefferson Elementary, where 9 out of 10 students qualify for free or reduced lunch. This $500 grant provided the six participating scout’s registration costs for an entire year of scouting, a troop leader, and many unique experiences to help the scouts grow in the program.

In addition to fulfilling their Bobcat Badge requirements, the youth went camping for the first time this summer, something many had longed to do. Giving back is important to this young group, and they’ve spent the year completing service projects such as cleaning up Capaha Park and sending care packages overseas to our armed forces.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri and Community Caring Council partnered to bring at-risk youth a international experience this summer. The Passport to Summer program connected roughly 115 youth to various community events this summer and to CENET, Cultural Exchange Network.  Students spent several weeks learning about the cultures of different countries, culminating with a small fair to celebrate the traditions of the countries spotlighted in the program.

Voices for Children was the final mini-grant recipient selected by our community investment committee. With their additional $1,000, they were able to start a support group for foster teens about to age out of the system. Leaving high school can overwhelm many students, especially those with no family or financial support.

The group consisted of 22 high school aged youth. Together, they went through financial coaching, developed workforce skills, improved their study habits, and built confidence as they moved into this next chapter in their lives.

United Way continuously utilizes our network of partners to build lasting solutions to the toughest problems. We’re still moved by how much work could be done for area students with just $2,500.

We’re excited to showcase three new programs at our Kickoff this August! As many of you know, the need in our community never stops, but thanks to donors like you, we’re able to make a difference for our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and peers every day.

We hope to see you at kickoff on August 23rd! Tickets are $30/person or $240/table of 8. This provides 6 seats for your group or company and 2 seats for members of our partner agencies who are excited to share more stories like these. Please RSVP to Kristin via email or by calling 573-334-9634.
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School Supplies Drive!

Picture this: over 50 businesses coming together to hand out supplies and host activities; free lunch served to over 1,200 individuals; thousands of various school supplies donated by over 20 local communities; and thousands of area students going back to school prepared to do learn.

Thanks to some pretty incredible people, that vision is a reality every summer in Southeast Missouri at the Back to School Fair!

Cape Girardeau Public Schools, United Way, The Salvation Army, The Urban Kids Project, and Big Brothers Big Sisters are excited to host this event again this year on Wednesday, August 1st at the CJHS Tiger Field House from 10am-3pm.

Families can register their kiddos for free school supplies and have access to several family resources, including free immunizations and dental screenings, health insurance counseling, free food, and activities.

If your company is looking to get involved feel free to reach out to me! Many organizations set up to promote programming, offer services and giveaways, or just simply host a fun activity for kids!

It’s estimated that 1,000 families in our area cannot afford the school supplies needed for their children to confidently begin another academic year. So what can we do to help them? United Way, KFVS12, Withers Broadcasting, and Walmart plan to host the 5th annual Stuff the Bus event during Missouri’s tax-free weekend.

Boxes will be at various Walmart stores in Southeast Missouri starting Friday, August 3rd. School districts and their respective volunteers will be out from 10am-4pm on Saturday, August 4th to collect supplies (or cash) from shoppers who donate.

But why wait until August?! United Way of Southeast Missouri encourages you to start purchasing supplies now! Our office will serve as a drop-off point during the month of July for anyone who wants to collect supplies for area students. Your workplace may even be interested in hosting your own drive!

Here’s a list of some of the most commonly needed items:

  • Single-subject notebooks
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Filler paper
  • 2-pocket folders
  • Ink pens
  • Crayola 24-count crayons
  • 2-pack pink erasers
  • Bottled glue
  • Scissors
  • 3-pack glue sticks

United Way has had an ongoing dedication to students, and it’s obvious that our region is equally committed. One of the biggest challenges they face is heading back to school unprepared. We hope you’ll join us in supporting our students and ensuring they’re ready for another great year in August!

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United Way of Southeast Missouri has had a strong focus on education over the last decade. You often hear us share stories and statistics on how impactful some of our after-school programming is for the students. The need for these programs doesn’t go away when the last bell rings though. Many of our partners are hosting summer sessions that you and your children can be a part of.

Read to Succeed

United Way is thrilled to share that our Read to Succeed program will be holding a special 6-week summer session starting in June! Students entering 1st-4th grade next school year are eligible to sign up for the free sessions. Students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with volunteers in 30 minute sessions every Monday-Thursday.

This means the program is also in need of summer volunteers! More session information is available here, or interested parties can contact Robin Koetting directly.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri will host their “Passport to Summer 2018” summer camp again this year. Starting June 4th, the seven week day camp will give children the opportunity to play outside, tour places like the Arts Council and River Radio. The camp will also encourage children to work and play with their peers through fun, educational activities.

Learn more about the program and register your kiddos here!

Boy Scouts

It’s time to get weird and wacky with science! The Greater St. Louis Area Council is hosting their annual Cub Scout Day Camp again this summer at Cape County Park North. The week-long Day Camp will run from July 9th – July 13th, 8am – 3pm, with drop off starting at 7:15am.

Day Camp is open to all boys and girls in the community in grades 1-5. Boy Scouts promises to offer an unforgettable outdoor experience with activities such as shooting sports, STEM, hiking, fishing, and more! All youth entering 1st grade in the fall must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If you have questions or are interested in registering your kiddos for the camp, contact Ashley Duerst or call 314-920-0621.

4-H

4-H Camp will be July 2-3 at Pinecrest Camp south of Fredericktown. This year’s theme is Survivor, with workshops consisting of wild edibles, line dancing, swimming, a challenge course, shooting sports, and crafts. There will also be a dance and field games.

4-H is offering quite a few opportunities for youth to stay engaged this summer! For more information contact Lesley Meier or Marsha Birk.

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Have you heard of Read to Excel?!  Optional headline: How’s this for a success story?

We know we’ve talked a lot about our new grant-funded literacy program this year, Read to Excel (R2X). And now we have some exciting data that prove the success of this program, designed to help students reading below grade level.

Many of our stakeholders had the opportunity to watch this video at our Community Celebration earlier this month. In short:

  • 61% of students in the program accomplished reading growth for the first year in just the first semester of R2X
  • 61% of students in the program scored above the national average of 13.5 for the first half of the year
  • 65% of students increased reading scores by one grade level.

Additionally, teachers stated reading confidence increased in their students, and they’re showing real excitement and enthusiasm for being a part of the program. Specifically, students enjoy the one-on-one time spent with the tutors.

Cape Girardeau Public Schools is an incredible community partner. They provided us with data called Lexile growth for the students at Franklin and Jefferson elementary schools and Cape Middle School. A Lexile measure is defined as “the numeric representation of an individual’s reading ability.”

Statistics indicate that students who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out before graduating high school. We knew it was critical to help the older students who were already a year, and in some cases, up to three years behind their peers in reading proficiency. We anticipated less impressive data for older students at the middle school; yet these students also made impressive gains. Their achievements for the first semester include:

  • 22%  of students in the program met or exceeded the Lexile Growth Goal for the year in the first semester
  • 51% of students in the program scored above the national Lexile Growth Goal of 44 for the first half of the year
  • 80% of students increased their Lexile Score.

The middle school program enhanced the school’s existing Tiger Book Club and is slightly different than our other reading programs for two reasons:

1) Students work in small groups of 4 or 5

2) These groups get to choose an age-appropriate novel to read together.

The majority of students in the program completed one full-length novel together, all while gaining confidence in their reading skills and becoming more comfortable reading aloud and with their peers. Because of the novels, students also were able to expand their vocabulary.

As with any new initiative, we faced some challenges, including student absences, minimal reading time, and school programming conflicts. These are all things we can work out as we continue to grow what is clearly a much needed and important program.

... but we need your help!

Our DeltaCorps grant that helped us launch this program has been eliminated. We are persistently exploring a wide variety of grants and other funding possibilities to keep this program going. United Way of Southeast Missouri stakeholders have time and time again demonstrated their dedication to ensuring our students are not only graduating, but are obtaining the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. Read to Excel is contributing to both causes.

If you are willing and able to donate a little, please consider doing so here. The option to designate your contribution to Read to Excel is the drop down box on the menu.

If you have ideas for obtaining significant funds, please contact Elizabeth Shelton via email, or by calling 573-334-9634. Our office is working diligently to ensure this programming continues to be available to our students.

On behalf of all the students in Read to Excel, the Live United team, and Cape Girardeau Public Schools staff, thank you for your dedication to our programs! Because of you, we are making a real difference in the lives of these children.  

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“Fundraising is not transactional. People give because of a connection.”

As someone who has a strong distaste for numbers and nearly all things mathematical, I have a love for statistics. Sometimes it’s enough to say that volunteering can help engage potential donors, but it goes a long way when we can back that up with research and firm numbers.

Did you know that someone who engages with United Way as a volunteer is seven times more likely to give in the future?

This single fact alone says enough about how important it is to begin engaging with individuals through more of a hands-on approach. Millennials are proof of this. While the workplace campaign model continues to be United Way’s most effective giving opportunity, as more donors move into retirement giving plans their workplace contributions aren’t being replaced by the younger generation.

One of my personal goals moving into our next campaign is to provide more opportunities for our community to gain a deeper, more individualized connection to United Way. How?

First we’ll continue to promote United Days of Caring as an annual event. This year’s two-day experience will take place on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th. Volunteers will have the opportunity to choose which project they want to get involved with, whether it be installing smoke detectors with The American Red Cross, working with Habitat for Humanity, or helping paint new stripes on the Lutheran Family and Children’s Services’ parking lot.

So why are we having a community-wide volunteer event on a Friday and Saturday? Studies show that when businesses promote volunteerism to their employees, it creates a stronger bond between the employee and the business. Is your management team looking for a teambuilding exercise? Does your sales staff need a break from making cold calls? United Days of Caring might be the perfect opportunity to help them engage with United Way.

Bill Stanczykiewicz was a keynote speaker at a United Way conference I attended earlier this month. He said, “Fundraising is not transactional. People give because of a connection.” So I ask, what’s your connection to United Way? What do you want your next connection to be? Who else can you help make that connection to United Way and our community?

Be sure to stay tuned for more information on UDOC, as well as more corporate engagement opportunities as we roll into the 2018 Campaign. United Way is here to create lasting change in our community, and we want you and your team to be a part of all the fun we have doing just that.

P.S. – Yes, that’s truly how you spell Bill’s name, now try pronouncing it!

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Change is certainly a word that this current United Way team is familiar with! Personally, I view change as a good thing. It’s an opportunity to welcome fresh ideas and to promote growth both within and outside of our organization.

No worries! Team United is still banded together and now has a collective 5 years’ experience under our belts. However, in case you missed it, we’ve had the opportunity to add a part-time administrator to our team and she’s been great. Cyndy has been instrumental in helping maintain our campaign data over the last few months. She also helps us with general bookkeeping, ensuring the office is organized and stocked, and so much more.

In Elizabeth’s article you can read more about the change happening around the Perryville storm last year. The Long-Term Recovery Committee has invested over $210,000 so far to help families with rebuilding costs, general basic needs, and even back-to-school expenses. YOUR continued investment in our organization is always making a difference and changing lives throughout Southeast Missouri.

Our partner agencies have seen some internal changes as well, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the good news! By now, many know that former United Way employee, Melissa Stickel, has taken over as the Executive Director of the Community Caring Council. She is doing an incredible job of promoting collaboration and educating our community about the great work happening over in their office.

The American Red Cross – Cape Girardeau also welcomed a new director just before the holidays. Julian Watkins comes from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where he worked as a staff attorney and was responsible for providing legal representation for students. Prior to SIUC, Julian served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Pulaski County, owned his own law practice, and was founder to BuzzFetch Marketing, LLC. Julian comes to the Red Cross with excitement and energy and looks forward to growing this organization in our community. 

Another new face joining the United Way family is Allen Treece. Allen just recently started his role as the new Executive Director at Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah where he helped create tremendous growth. Allen has a passion for serving youth and helping kids fulfill their true potential, and looks forward to spearheading the continued growth of our local clubs.

On the other hand, we’re also seeing two executive directors pass on their roles as they enter retirement. Al Stoverink with Habitat for Humanity retired from the organization back in December. Al did an incredible job aiding families as they worked to get into their forever homes. Linda Nash has also announced her retirement from Voices for Children (CASA). Linda leaves the organization after being instrumental in its growth and continued success.

We want to congratulate Al and Linda on their retirement and thank them for their dedication! They’ve both truly left a mark and taught us all so much about not only their respective organizations, but also about what it means to be a team player and make a difference in our community.

If you see any of our new faces out and about, please be sure to welcome them to the community! We’re excited to see what our new faces bring to Southeast Missouri and to work with them in the coming years.
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The United Way 365 Small Business Giving Program is designed for smaller organizations that want to be a part of the United Way network, but may not have the resources to run a full-blown workplace campaign. For as little as a dollar a day, small business owners join a circle of individuals working every day to strengthen our community. 

How long has your business been in operation?

Our business has been in operation for over 38 years.

What services does your business provide?

We provide several avenues of insurance and financial planning options.

What do you enjoy most about working for a small business?

It is a business with a family atmosphere. Everyone that works here truly cares about one another and our clients. It's nice to work for a business where everyone enjoys coming to work each day.

What do you love most about this community?

What I enjoy most about this community is the optimism and support it has for small businesses and organizations.

Why do you choose to support your community through United Way?

I choose to support the community through United Way because the 365 campaign allows me to give directly to our community.

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Let's #GiveFromTheHeart!

“Generosity is a practical expression of love.” – Gary Inrig

 

Long-time donors may remember when our annual campaign began and ended in the fall, creating a three-month whirlwind of fundraising. While we still kick off in the fall and host many workplace presentations before November, our fundraising efforts are now year-round. We do this to accommodate some of our valued partners who prefer this time frame and also because it is more fitting to our mission.

We are here to unite people to resources in an effort to strengthen everyone in our community. Our partner agencies can attest to the fact that the need is 24/7/365. We can’t focus our efforts on a specific time of year and hope to be effective. Our community, your community, needs the help year round.

Although we host Celebration in the spring to publicly ‘end’ our community drive, we also have major events nearly every quarter. Celebration will be followed by United Days of Caring (UDOC), April 27-28; our 31st annual golf tournament will occur as it always does on the first Friday of June, then we will be back to an August kickoff, and a fall of workplace giving.

While our workplace giving model is still our most relevant source of income, many of our initiatives are designed to inform more people about our work, especially those who do not learn about United Way in their workplace. One relatively new event is held during the month of February and is fittingly termed Give From The Heart (GFTH). In its third year, the ‘Give from the Heart’ campaign is an opportunity for the general public, small businesses, restaurants, and other United Way partners to continue sharing our mission while collecting additional funds for the annual campaign.

This year’s mini-campaign will kick off on February 1, when a variety of area businesses and organizations will begin selling hearts to customers for a minimum donation of $1. We are very grateful to the following businesses that have already committed to sell hearts to their customers throughout the month. We hope many more will be added!

  • Alliance Bank
  • Ameren MO
  • Banterra Bank
  • Bloom
  • Canine Clipz
  • Catapult
  • Commerce Bank
  • Culver’s Restaurant
  • Cup ‘N’ Cork

 

  • First Midwest Bank
  • Fox 23/KBSI
  • Ground-a-bout
  • Heartland Custom Flooring
  • High Street Station
  • Innovative Orthodontics
  • Jackson Tire
  • Judith’s Antiques & Gung Ho Militaria
  • Kuts Plus
  • Missouri Running Company
  • Mousse Salon & Spa
  • Old Town Cape
  • Reed’s Metals of Scott City
  • Smokehouse 61
  • Southern Bank
  • The Bank of Missouri
  • United Land Title

 

Other businesses plan to donate a percentage of sales through share events. We hope you will show support to all of these businesses who help our community, even if you can’t get there on the date of our event.  

  • Five Below will donate 10% of sales made between February 4-10. This is a great opportunity to let your kiddos know about how easy it is to give back when they purchase from one of their favorite stores. Be sure to share this flyer when checking out!
  • On Valentine’s Day, make plans to visit Buffalo Wild Wings in Cape! 10% of lunch and dinner sales will be donated back to United Way.
  • If you love wings, check our Facebook page for share days scheduled at Wings Etc. in both Cape and Jackson (dates TBD).
  • Still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? Visit our friends at Missouri Running Company on Saturday, February 24th for their Purchase with a Purpose fundraiser benefiting our Give from the Heart campaign!

Finally, be sure to join us at one of the two trivia nights being hosted by Cup ‘N’ Cork! The first will be Saturday, February 10th at 6pm and the second on Saturday, February 24th at 6pm. Entry fee is $10/player and you can have up to 6 players on your team. Proceeds from the event will be donated back to United Way of Southeast Missouri.

Like Gary Inrig said in the quote above, “generosity is a practical expression of love.” While we gear up for a very pink, loving, and chocolate-filled February, let’s not forget to share the love with those in our community who need it most. 
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As we near the end of the year, it is fairly common to see businesses and individuals reflect on the last 12 months. For many, it’s the end of another fiscal year and an opportunity to look at the books as they set goals for the next calendar year. Others look back on their successes and celebrate them with those who helped make it all possible. Here at United Way of Southeast Missouri, we’ve decided to do the latter, partially because we’re only in the middle of our fiscal year…

Considering I’m involved in a large percentage of what goes on in this office, thinking about what specific successes I wanted to share with our United Way family was flooding. Of course, one of my favorite memories of 2017 was the annual kickoff event. I’m unbelievably proud of everyone who helped with this event, from the United Way team who helped with set-up to the partner agencies who gave their time to our donors. The marketing committee did an outstanding job supporting the promotion of the event and, of course, we have to thank Jay and Gunnar Knudtson for being wildly fun MC’s for the afternoon. Pulling together so many people and running a seamless event is never an easy task, but we did it and I think it demonstrates our commitment to partnerships and community.

It was also the first time, to my knowledge, that this organization began annual fundraising efforts with an actual fundraiser. I’ve played a part in numerous fundraising initiatives over the last few years and one thing seems to remain constant – change is a challenge that we all manage in our own unique way. However, our loyal donors were extremely receptive to the new event and together we were able to bring in additional funds for the campaign. This was also an opportunity to educate everyone on the continued need in our community and the donations taken in during our programming actually went to support three new initiatives our partner agencies proposed, meaning we were able to make an even bigger impact in Southeast Missouri.

Let’s also not forget the impact that was made when the community came together to support our neighbors affected by the February tornado in Perryville. United Way of Southeast Missouri was able to collect over $73,000 to invest into long-term recovery initiatives in that area. So far the funds have been used to help cover additional back-to-school expenses, assist households with foundation and rebuilding expenses, and lead community discussion through emotional and financial recovery workshops.

The last piece of the year that I believed to be unbelievably important to our success was the restructuring and rebuilding of our committees. After this team got through our first campaign together, we realized how helpful it would be to re-engage the volunteers on our committees. It’s safe to say we wouldn’t make it through budgeting without the help of our finance committee; the idea of managing the annual campaign without our ambassadors and marketing committee sounds ridiculously stressful; and our community investment group has been instrumental in refining the way we collect outcome information from our partners.

So what about the rest of the team? Donna mentioned that our move was her biggest success of the year, and I can’t say I blame her! If you haven’t seen the new digs you may not realize we lost over half of our square footage with this move. That meant downsizing years of files, decorations, supplies and more. Let’s not forget that we had to build a kitchen into our new office and try to organize everything while gearing up for campaign.

Even though we downsized our office, growth and consistency were two common themes throughout our year. If you’ve talked to Elizabeth recently, she’s probably expressed her excitement for not just another year with the same dedicated team, but the growth of the team as well! Cyndy came on board as our new administrative assistant and immediately helped get the office organized. Now she’s been instrumental in helping with data entry and other administrative duties, leaving more time for the full-time staff to focus on fundraising, marketing and impact.

Speaking of impact – the final two additions to #teamUNITED were Emily and Nancy, our Read to Excel site coordinators. Their program was another HUGE win for the community this year. Students in grades 2-6 at Jefferson and Franklin Elementary and at Cape Middle School have had the opportunity to get extra reading help through Read to Excel, an expansion of United Way’s Read to Succeed program. The data we’ve been shown proves the power of this volunteer-driven program and we were thrilled to receive a grant from the Delta Regional Authority to expand into the higher grade levels.

Of course, our funded partner agencies have had an incredible 2017 as well! United Way funding helped:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri host two summer camp locations for 133 total members attending from the surrounding counties and launch a new after-school program in Scott City,
  • First Call for Help provide assistance with over 2,000 cases in Southeast Missouri,
  • Add another desperately needed case manager to the Community Caring Council team,
  •  Enable Scott County 4-H to start a new junior leaders program,
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters expand their ABCToday network that supports student progress in all Cape public schools,
  • Habitat for Humanity completed two homes, one for a single father and his children and also broke ground on a third, which will be the first ever all-women build in our community.

The list of successes could go on and on, but it’s important to remember that none of this would have been possible without the support of United Way donors and volunteers. We hope to continue being the organization you expect us to be and look forward to having another incredible year together! Thank you for all you do and continue to do with United Way of Southeast Missouri.

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