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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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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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Quick Guide: Year-End Giving

5 Tips to Give More and Save More Before 2018

We remain genuinely grateful for the donations of time and treasure we receive from the thousands of people who support United Way of Southeast Missouri. You are the foundation of this organization, and together we are changing lives.

If you would benefit from a year-end charitable donation, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  1. Charitable contributions only offer tax benefits to those who itemize their tax return.
  2. Most publicly traded securities purchased more than a year ago that have increased in value can be donated without paying capital gains tax. The greater the appreciation, the greater the tax savings. Your tax deduction increases, because it is based on the full value of the stock, not just the gain. This means you give less to Uncle Sam and even more to your community by donating to United Way!
  3. We also gladly accept cash, checks and credit cards. Be sure your credit card is charged or your check is postmarked no later than December 31, 2017, to receive the deduction for the past year.
  4. You are welcome to designate to your favorite cause, but an unrestricted gift allows us to put your money where it is most needed.
  5. If you want your investment to go to a specific cause, ask your financial advisor about creating a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). This allows you to take an immediate deduction, but gives you more time to decide how you want to direct your investment. If you don’t have a financial advisor, please contact me; we have several members on our Finance Committee who can help create a DAF that will benefit you and the people of Southeast Missouri.

Whether you Give, Advocate or Volunteer, many thanks to everyone who supports our community. The impact we make with our partner agencies and programs could not happen without your help. We wish you a 2018 full of health and prosperity.

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'Tis the Season of Giving

Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday, which precedes Cyber Monday, and many businesses remain open on Thanksgiving! As the newspaper becomes burgeoned with flyers and the airwaves promote holiday sales, it is easy to get caught up in the season of spending, rather than the original spirit of giving thanks and giving back. I’d like to remind you of two very easy ways to do both.

Amazon donates a percentage of every sale to the charity of your choice if you enroll in Amazon Smile, a very easy, painless process. Simply visit https://smile.Amazon.com and enter United Way of Southeast Missouri or your preferred charity. From that point on, log onto Amazon Smile to shop, and the donation is automatic. You also have the option of changing your charity at any time. Amazon will even remind you to go to Amazon Smile if you forget the next time you shop. You pay nothing extra to give as you spend.

Another way for you to give back this season is to support Giving Tuesday, a global movement now in its fifth year. Following Cyber Monday, this year Giving Tuesday falls on November 28. United Way of Southeast Missouri is using this opportunity to raise funds to ‘Save Our Students’ (SOS) by donating to emergency student funds in our public schools and at Southeast Missouri State University. The SOS funds help provide necessities to keep students focused on learning. Items include eyeglasses, lunch money, winter coats, and other necessities for students in public schools in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perry County, and Bollinger County, as well as gas money, testing fees, and other assistance at the university.

There are many ways to donate on Giving Tuesday—via our social media, our website, by text, by calling our office or mailing a check. Donations may be made to a specific school or simply marked SOS. Please visit www.unitedwayofsemo.org/ for more information.

We are challenging community members to donate a percentage of what you will spend on holiday food and gifts to those students who, through no fault of their own, need your help. Our community is your community, and your community needs you. Thank you for choosing to give back. May your holidays be filled with more blessings than calories!
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Time to Give & Receive!

'Tis better to give than to receive, but when you make a year-end donation to United Way, you can give and receive at the same time!

Through our workplace campaigns, we are fortunate to receive year-round donations we invest into 24 agencies in Southeast Missouri. But nearly 33% of annual giving occurs in December with 28% taking place in the last three days of the year. For some donors, the tax benefits hold the greatest appeal, while others simply get into the spirit of giving. If you are considering a year-end gift, here are some benefits to keep in mind:

  • You can donate most publicly traded securities without having to sell them first, eliminating the capital gains tax. We have some very generous donors who gift valuable stock annually that gives them a tax reduction and puts thousands of dollars back into our community.
  • When you contribute to a public charity like United Way, you can give up to 50% of your adjusted gross income.
  • You must make itemized deductions to receive the tax benefit, which must be more than the standard deduction.
  • 99% of your gift will stay in our region, benefiting children, families, and seniors in 34 programs we fund.

Of course, we are not tax experts, so be sure to consult a qualified advisor. And if you don’t need a tax break, you can still recommend a United Way donation to your friends who do. Above all, enjoy a safe holiday season with those who matter most to you. 

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It has been shown that, on average, charities receive about 40% of their total yearly donations in the last three months of the year. Some organizations report receiving almost a third of their yearly gifts in December alone!

At the United Way of Southeast Missouri we know that the winter season can be rough on the individuals and families that we serve every day. Our funded partners go the extra mile to ensure the homeless are warm while they sleep, the at-risk students are fed during the holiday breaks and that seniors are well cared for during the cold months.

We also know that while you love giving back, there’s only so much you can do – so let us help you figure out the best route for your year-end donation! Check out our 5 tips for giving back this holiday season:

  1. Shop online to earn donations! Did you know that The United Way of Southeast Missouri is partnered with AmazonSmile year round? On average, 25% of holiday shoppers will spend between $500 and $1,000 on gifts each season and 75% will shop online. AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support the United Way of Southeast Missouri every time you shop at absolutely no extra cost. You find the exact same low prices; the exact same selection of items and the exact same ease of shopping with the added bonus of having a portion of what you spend go directly to United Way. It’s easy – visit smile.amazon.com and start shopping!

     

  2. Do you know someone who is consistently hard to shop for? Give the gift of humanitarian aid! Instead of spending hours trying to find the right gift, donate to a cause they care about in their name. With 24 funded partners and over 30 partner agencies, we’re sure you’ll be able to give the perfect gift this year. Plus, we will even send a special card to your recipient letting them know just how meaningful their gift is to the people who benefit from your donation.

     

  3. Use your voice to spread holiday cheer! One of the best things you can do for your favorite charity is to speak up and educate your neighbors on the great things they do year round. Challenge your family to a little United Way trivia – see if they know $.99 of every dollar gets invested back into the counties we serve, or see who can name the most programs in 30 seconds. Whether you include a note in your holiday cards or use our social media and online tools to share our promotions, every little bit you share helps!

     

  4. Donate before December 31st to receive tax benefits on your next return. While donors always give from the heart, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be some added return on that worthwhile investment! To qualify for a deduction on your 2017 return, make sure your donation is processed by December 31, 2016. Send checks to The United Way of Southeast Missouri in early December, or grab your phone right now and call (573) 334-9634 or text GiveWhatMatters to 41444. Don’t forget, unrestricted monetary donations are the best way to ensure the causes you care about are able to plan for the year ahead!

     

  5. Volunteer! Whether  you’re looking to spend a few hours ringing bells for the Salvation Army or want to dive in and host a winter clothing drive at your workplace – there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference right here in Southeast Missouri. Your time is just as valuable as your treasure and we can’t wait to see you #StrengtheningOurCommunity!

How can you help the causes you care about this holiday season?

Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Want to give a holiday gift to The United Way of Southeast Missouri now? Donate here.

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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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