More than 500 volunteers gathered for breakfast Friday morning at Columbia Mall for the 13th Columbia Area United Way Day of Caring Campaign kickoff before moving out to work on projects across town.
“The most important resource we coordinate is human capital, hundreds of people that volunteer their time and expertise,” said David Franta, executive director of Columbia Area United Way. “United Way cannot raise money without volunteers who give up a significant period of their time.”
The volunteers at the United Way Day of Caring represented 37 companies and organizations, among them MBS Textbook Exchange, Boone Hospital Center, Stephens College, Shelter Insurance and several groups from MU, Franta said.
The volunteers cleaned, painted and repaired 49 locations including the buildings of different organizations and residences where the residents were unable to do the repairs themselves.
Twelve volunteers helped The Intersection, a center for children from the First Ward, with preparations to become an adult day care center while children are at school.
“It is very important that they volunteered,” said Dana Battison, executive director of The Intersection. “We are trying to get everything organized for the senior-care center. We are very understaffed, so having them was very helpful in cleaning, organizing, just things that we normally cannot get to.”
United Way also announced its 2005-06 campaign goal of $2.865 million at the breakfast, a more than 3 percent increase from last year’s goal.
Franta said the increase is needed primarily to cover state budget cuts. An increasing population and the ongoing needs of people who have relocated to mid-Missouri because of the Gulf Coast hurricanes are also factors.
Franta said he is confident of reaching the campaign goals.
“We are fortunate to say that we generally meet our goals,” he said.
A large percentage of the money comes from local businesses through employee payroll deduction pledges, Franta said.
United Way is raising funds for 32 mid-Missouri health and human services organizations.
“The agencies we help serve a broad range of people: elderly, hungry, victims of domestic violence, neglected children, people of low income and others,” Franta said.
The major beneficiaries of United Way fundraising campaigns include Central Missouri Food Bank, Family Health Center, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Rainbow House and others.
The United Way gets its donations monthly and in return pays the agencies each month.
Although the campaign officially started Friday, the planning has been going on for some time.
“We have been making contacts for this year’s campaign since late June,” Franta said.
Over time people have come up with some creative ways to raise money, Franta said.
“Sometimes people will have their head shaved, pie in the face, backward golf cart race, it can get really creative,” Franta said.