United Way Kicks Off 2016 Community Drive


United Way of Southeast Missouri will kick off its 2016 annual community funding drive with a weekend of giving back to the community. United Days of Caring is designed to involve people, organizations and improvement projects in every community United Way of Southeast Missouri serves: Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perryville and Marble Hill. 


A breakfast on Friday, September 9, from 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. at the new Family Pavilion in Capaha Park will kick-start the weekend for all volunteers and United Way supporters. Those participating in community improvement projects will go from the park to their project location. Projects also are planned for Saturday with a United Days of Caring Community Party following a 9-11 observance on Sunday, September 11, at the Common Pleas Courthouse Gazebo.

Elizabeth Shelton, who has been Executive Director for the organization just over a year, explains: “Many people in the areas we serve are unaware of the wonderful work United Way does through our partner agencies and programs. United Days of Caring not only gives us an opportunity to demonstrate that, but it also invites anyone and everyone to get involved in giving back. Our worldwide slogan is ‘Give, Advocate, Volunteer,’ and this weekend allows everyone to do just that.”

The wide variety of projects enables all ages and levels of skill and fitness to participate. Some will connect groups of individuals with local United Way partners, such as Habitat for Humanity and the Women’s Safe House, while others will engage volunteers with organizations that aren’t typically recipients of United Way investments. Various area churches are in need of minor maintenance, such as painting, and local food pantries need volunteers to help build and stock shelves.

Several area businesses are giving their employees time off to participate. Aside from working with larger organizations, some have created their own projects. One idea that has taken off and soon will appear around town is the creation of Little Free Libraries, which encourage anyone to take (or give) a free book. The creative boxes resemble oversized bird houses and are built and strategically placed in ‘library deserts’ in cities across the country. There are nearly 40,000 Little Free Libraries registered around the world, promoting literacy and the love of reading. So far, two Cape Girardeau organizations have committed to building and maintaining little libraries at their location. One will be built and housed by the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

Area schools also will get involved over the course of the weekend. Students from both Cape Girardeau Public Schools and the Jackson R-2 School District will create cards for veterans, homebound citizens and local first responders. Additionally, volunteers will help the district with playground cleanup and maintenance on Saturday.

Merideth Pobst, Director of Communications and Foundation for the Jackson R-2 School District, is spearheading efforts at Jackson schools and also will serve as the 2016 Community Drive Chair for United Way. Generally, the Chairperson is someone who is publicly involved in community support and acts as a spokesperson during the drive, assisting with fundraising and helping the United Way Ambassadors in their efforts to strengthen community relationships.

“I believe in living a life of compassionate service where we open our eyes to see real need in the community and we work together find a way to make a life changing impact through collective resources all while mentoring and building relationships,” said Pobst. “Together, we can do more.”

Interested volunteers and organizations that would like to include projects for United Days of Caring need to visit to provide project details and register as a volunteer.

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