United Way announces 2020-21 “Be a Hero” campaign

A sign of the new slogan for the 2020-21 United Way campaign, "Be a Hero," which was unveiled at Monroe City High School's football field on Wednesday.

MONROE CITY, Mo. |It's a bird, it's a plane, it's United Way.

The United Way of Mark Twain announced an 5,000 fundraising goal for the 2020-21 annual campaign at a press conference on Wednesday at Monroe City High School's football field, which also included a plane flyover.

“Our organizations are our community heroes,” said United Way of the Mark Twain Area executive director Denise Damron. “In order to continue doing what our agencies do, it is now time to be a hero in the community by partnering with United Way.”

“Be a Hero” is something the United Way will stress throughout the 2020-21 campaign. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, individuals and organizations in the community partnered with the United Way to be heroes by providing food and funding to ensure that non-profit charity organizations would be able to serve the increased numbers of people needing help.

2020-21 campaign chair Forrest Gossett said board members of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area are committed to meeting the increased needs of people across Northeast Missouri as the region goes through tough times.

“With the economic emergency created by COVID-19 and the increased pressure of our member agencies, now is the time for bold leadership,” Gossett said. “Our board is sending a message that we cannot allow people to fall through the cracks. We believe this is a time for our community to shine. This is the time for heroes.”

The United Way of the Mark Twain Area is encouraging individuals to partner with the organization by giving to the campaign to ensure that everyone in the community has what they need to succeed.

Local organizations will be receiving monthly payments from the 2020-21 campaign, which will begin in November and run through October 2021.

One of the organizations that the United Way will be helping is the Monroe City Senior Nutrition Center, who provides meals and social services to seniors in Monroe City, Paris, Philadelphia and Center.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Monroe City Senior Nutrition Center has seen an increased demand for services and food.

“We have had to change how we do things, but with the volunteers stepping up and the United Way, we feel really blessed that we have been able to accomplish the things that we had,” said Monroe City Senior Nutrition Center administrator Diana Hendrix.

Another organization the United Way will be helping is the Salvation Army of Quincy and Hannibal. Board member Chad Douglas said the United Way has made it possible for The Salvation Army to continue programs such as the fan program, transportation programs, clothing donations and food assistance.

“We just bought a property down by the Hannibal Nutrition Center for our social services,” Douglas said. “If you are familiar with the family store on Steamboat Bend (Shopping Center), that's also where our social services department is. It's not exactly the most private place … so we have a new property right next to the Nutrition Center we are rehabbing and hope to have ready by the end of next year.”

The 2020-21 campaign will also contribute to area food pantries such as Douglass Community Services, Harvest Outreach Ministries, the Monroe City Food Pantry, the Paris Senior Center and the Shelby County Senior Center.

United Way funding will also go to Birthday Blessings, an organization that provides foster and at-risk children with birthday party supplies and gifts.

“For the birthday parties, we provide things like dufflebags, backpacks, bedding and clothing,” said Birthday Blessings director Shannon Von Allmen. “All of these things that there are not government funding for. In addition to that, we also do things like graduation gifts … and we've been doing (COVID-19) packages for kids stuck at home.”

Other organizations the United Way will partner with include Avenues, CHART Teen Task Force, The Child Center, Families and Communities Together, Hannibal Free Clinic, Hannibal Parents as Teachers, Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Learning Opportunities and Quality Works, the Monroe City R-1 School District Student Success Center, Northeast Community Action Corporation and the YMCA of Hannibal.

The United Way of Mark Twain's 2020-21 campaign will officially kickoff this fall. For more information about the campaign, visit www.unitedwaymta.org.

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