Blog Home > Archive (December, 2014)

Donor Spotlight: Josh Hinkle

1. How long have you lived in this community?

I've lived in Southeast Missouri for all of my life. I grew up in Fredericktown, MO and moved to the Cape Girardeau area to attend Southeast Missouri State University. I now reside in Jackson, where I have continued to build relationships within the community through work and volunteerism.

2. What is your occupation?

I am a personal banker at U.S. Bank at the Southeast Missouri State University campus location.

3. What are you passionate about?

Children. I think there is nothing better than making sure our next generation succeeds. It is so important that we be visible and be the greatest role models that we can be. It is a huge responsibility to make sure that each new generation we bring into this world can work together and lead us into a better tomorrow. 

4. What are your hobbies?

In my spare time, I spend a lot of time with my animals. I also enjoy being around my family. I help tutor my youngest brother with his math and find myself proofreading quite a few English papers for my other brother. Not only is it rewarding, but it's a way to watch our relationships grow.

5. What do you love most about this community?

I love how tight-knit the community is. Coming from a smaller town within Southeast Missouri, I like that Cape Girardeau gives me some of the benefits of a larger city, while still giving me a sense of community while I'm out and about.

6. How long have you been a United Way donor?

This is my second year donating to United Way.

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

A big influence for me was the fact that my donations stay within our community. We have needs throughout the area and United Way really helps fulfill those needs. I also love that United Way gives me the option to select how my donation is used. With that option, I can really see how the organization benefits the causes I am passionate about. 

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1.    How long have you lived in this community?

My whole life! This is my hometown - I grew up here, went to school here, work here and play here. 

2.    What is your occupation?

I've been in banking for over 25 years. I'm currently a Universal Banker at Alliance Bank.

3.    What are you passionate about?

I love making people laugh and smile. It makes me feel good!

4.    What are your hobbies?

Advocacy, volunteering and spending time with my friends and family. 

5.    What do you love most about this community?

People care! If there's a problem or opportunity, they care about it enough to unite and make a difference.

6.    How long have you been a United Way donor?

18+ years

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

I donate to United Way because EVERYONE benefits from the many funded programs. My employer offers payroll deduction, so it's convenient and easy!

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No Strings Attached

With just a week to go, Christmas is definitely in the air! With Christmas parties and programs going on, Santa appearances around town and last minute Christmas shopping to do, you can’t help but feel festive this time of year. It is that “good cheer” we sing about in Christmas carols. Along with all the joy that the Christmas season brings, it also brings about the spirit of giving in people. It is the time of year that our attention turns outward as we identify all those special people in our lives and seek to find that perfect gift just for them.

 In turning outward, it allows us to think about those that may not be in the same place, financially, and those with Christmas wishes going unfulfilled this year.  Christmas seems to be the opportune time for charitable giving as organizations announce  ways in which people can give back to the community or give to those in need- from year-end giving to #GivingTuesday campaigns, from toy drives to sponsoring families for Christmas. With all this good cheer and joy and unselfishness in the air, it is catching. That is why this season is coined the season of giving, is it not?

Generally, people want to give because it feels good to give, but too often, what keeps us from the joy of giving is the not knowing of how our gift will be used or spent. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is essential for organizations to be accountable and responsible with donor dollars, but what I am talking about is deeper than that.  It is like sponsoring a family for Christmas but wanting them to open the gifts in front of you so can directly see the benefit-so we can participate in that moment and see the glitter in their eyes as they open their gift. Think about that moment your loved ones eyes light up because they received a gift from you-it feels good doesn’t it. This is what drives us to give-that moment- and in our pursuit of that we sometimes forget that that moment may not belong to us and that is what prevents us from giving freely.

Think about that family who could not afford gifts for their child but someone sponsored them for Christmas. Imagine those kids opening up those gifts on Christmas morning and their parents get to enjoy that moment. That is their moment. Think about that elderly widow alone in her room praying for a visitor and then a youth group comes to spend the afternoon and brings Christmas gifts.  Imagine her eyes lighting up as she reminisces about her younger days. That is their moment. Some moments just do not belong to us even if we helped make it happen. That is the true spirit of giving.

Too often we give with expectations and I challenge us all this Christmas season to give freely, with no strings attached.

Here are a few ideas to get us started:

  • Go to one of the local food banks and hand out gift cards for local stores. This will allow people to buy something for those they love. If you can, along with the gift card, give a roll of tape, wrapping paper and a name tag.
  • Go to a pharmacy and pay the copay on someone's medicine. You will make their day!
  • Send puzzles, cards and games to the prison near you. We have more youth and adults in cages than any other country. Most cannot read at 8th grade level and almost half have untreated mental health issues. This is one small way to help people behind bars keep their sanity.
  • Go to Salvation Army and tell them you want to pay utilities for someone who has a 72 hour notice. You do not have to get their name (confidential) but they can randomly select someone who is about to lose their water or electricity.
  • Wrap some fun gifts for seniors and go to your local senior citizens center. Hand them out randomly and make someone's day.
  • Find the school with the highest free and reduced lunch and offer to come in to share with the kids what you do to earn a living. The isolation of poverty perpetuates it.
  • Go to a Laundromat in a high poverty neighborhood. Bring gift bags of treats and gift cards for local shops.
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Just a Little Bit More

Over the weekend my family and I saw Cape Bethel Assembly of God’s Christmas production of “Humbug to Halleluiah.” Although it was not my first time seeing it, this was the first time that my children were not part of it so I actually got to sit and just enjoy it. I had heard all of the songs before and had some of them even memorized, but this weekend as I sat and listened to one particular song I was particularly struck by how true the lyrics really were, despite the intended humor. 

The particular scene is when Scrooge is asking for payment due on money borrowed to the poor townspeople, which are called moochers, and the townspeople are appealing to Scrooge to hold off on their payments due since it is the holidays. They break out in a song titled, “Just a little bit more.” As the song goes, the townspeople are begging for “just a little bit more” time and some even for “just a little bit more” money. Scrooge, despite his disdain for the holiday season, agrees to give them “just a little bit more” because he knows that despite their inability to ever pay off their debt, he will continue to collect compounding interest and fees as long as they continue to borrow “just a little bit more.” 

It was a laughable scene for sure, but as I sat there listening to the laughter I could not help but think how much of a reality this is for people living in poverty right now. It is absurdly expensive to be poor and people living in poverty often experience this cyclical effect of never being able to get out of debt.

Here are some examples of why it is expensive to live in poverty:

  • Most people living in poverty do not have a bank account or if they do it is costing them money. 28.3% of Americans conduct at least some of their financial transactions outside of mainstream banking, like check-cashing services or payday loans.Payday loans cost an average of more than 138% in interest and fees.
  • For those that cannot afford a reliable vehicle to get to and from work or doctor’s appointments, they often rely on public transportation, which unfortunately can be time consuming and expensive, if available at all. Or, if they do have a vehicle, it may be unreliable and use a large amount of gas compared to newer fuel efficient cars.
  • If you are living in poverty, it may be difficult to come up with the deposit, first months, and last month’s rent often required to move into an apartment or house. The alternative is places that will allow you to pay week to week, such as a budget motel. However, this can be very expensive in the long run.
  • Little things like having to go to a Laundromat because you cannot afford a washer or dryer, add up quickly for a person living in poverty.
  • To avoid going without some things, like a washer and dryer, people in poverty sometimes feel their only option is to rent-to-own, where the price they end up paying can be double or triple the price they would pay if they could pay for it in full.

Poverty is a cycle in which people get trapped and often see no way out of. Then to top that off we tend to blame people for their poverty conditions. This is exactly the reason we have terms like “moochers” in describing people in poverty.

What we really need “just a little bit more” of is an understanding of the barriers that keep people in that trap of poverty and then top that off with “just a little bit more” empathy and compassion.

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These days, college students are busier than ever. A full load of classes, part-time jobs, sports games, Greek life, and honor’s societies…the list goes on and on. Despite all these extra-curricular activities, many of them still make time to volunteer with various service projects or reoccurring opportunities like Read to Succeed.

Campus United Way is an organization at Southeast Missouri State University that aims to promote volunteerism among college students. The group hopes to continue building partnerships with other campus organizations by participating in their service projects and inviting them to also join in on Campus United Way’s projects.

Below are some of the exciting events Campus United Way has been a part of this semester!

September: Participated in the campus-wide Health and Wellness Fair by sharing information about the benefits of volunteering. Did you know people who volunteer report increased levels of happiness, decreased levels of stress, and a greater sense of control over their lives?

October: Partnered with Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, to facilitate Halloween activities at Boys and Girls Club the Monday and Wednesday prior to Halloween. The children had a ton of fun decorating cookies and cupcakes, making Halloween pictures, making and eating “Boo Mix,” and decorating pumpkins donated by SEMO’s Horticulture Club. Look at those smiling faces!

November: Collected canned goods between November 17th and November 21st to be donated to local food pantries. The club asked mainly for donations of soup, canned vegetables, pasta, and rice. Local club members also helped serve at the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

December: Decorated Christmas cards for the American Red Cross’s “Holiday Mail for Heroes” campaign which ships Christmas cards to service members overseas. Check out the awesome artwork! The group will also be helping Salvation Army collect monetary donations through their Holiday bell-ringing campaign and providing Christmas gifts to a family through Safe House for Women’s Adopt a Family campaign. 

If you are a college student who would like to get involved with Campus United Way, please consider coming to a meeting next semester.  The group meets on a bi-weekly basis—typically on Sunday evenings. If you are not a college student but are still interested in community volunteer opportunities, please click hereto view our December newsletter

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