September marks the official kick-off of United Way of Greater St. Louis’ 2020 community fundraising campaign, which supports programs and organizations across the region that help local people live their best possible lives. 

Campaign spokespersons David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, Kathy Osborn, president and CEO of the Regional Business Council, Penny Pennington, managing partner of Edward Jones, and Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation, announced the launch.

 “Our region is facing incredible challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis and nationwide calls for racial equity,” Steward said. “We all want to see the communities where we live, work and raise our children thrive. This year’s campaign theme is ‘We are all United,’ truly illustrating the power of our community’s collective efforts.” 

United Way’s annual campaign runs in the fall from September through mid-November. More than 1,000 local companies and hundreds of thousands of individuals are expected to contribute to the success of the campaign, which is launching with a solid foundation; early dollars raised are in line with those raised prior to the start of last year’s campaign.

“The strength of our community’s safety net is more important than ever,” Osborn said. “It ensures that someone is there to help our neighbors, whether with everyday basic needs or in times of crisis. Through United Way, thousands of people in our community will receive the vital resources they need, like food, shelter, emergency aid, safe havens and so much more. 

“This is only possible because of the generosity and support of so many in our region.”

From mid-March through August, United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline has received over 77,000 requests for help, an increase of 57% over 2019. Top requests include housing, healthcare, mental health support and food resources.  

“The needs of our community and neighbors will continue to evolve, and nonprofits will continue to face increased demand for their services,” Baxter said. “In fact, 75% of United Way’s surveyed partner agencies reported an increased demand for help, and 90% reported receiving requests for help from new clients. 

“Now more than ever, it’s important for us as a region to unite and lend each other a helping hand.”  

With the widespread increase in demand for services, United Way is calling on community members for their support. 

“The need has rarely been more visible, and our efforts to rally the community behind United Way are more important than ever,” said Michelle Tucker, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. “While in the past, United Way and the community have rallied around a specific dollar goal, this year we’re rallying around the connectedness of each other through our ‘We are all United’ theme. 

“We know that the St. Louis community is generous, resilient and united to create a stronger region for all.”

The dollars raised through United Way will support programs like United Way’s free 2-1-1 helpline as well as 167 Safety Net agencies. 

These programs and agencies help people through five impact areas: provide food and shelter, establish financial stability, foster learning, improve health and strengthen communities. A list of programs can be found on the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ website.

“This community has tremendously generous people and a great heart, but we also have issues and challenges we need to solve,” said Pennington. “I believe that with more of us mobilized together, we can use this year to make a very meaningful difference for more people. 

“Our community needs us right now and I’m grateful that United Way is there to bring us together to help one another.”

Individuals interested in donating may pledge online at WeAreAllUnited.org. 

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