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United Way makes annual grant presentations

United Way of St. Francois County President Paula Jackson looked out at the crowd representing area service agencies and spoke from her heart.

“Thank you for not giving up,” Jackson said Tuesday at the North College Center of Mineral Area College. “You persevere, even when it is hard.

“This is the day we look forward to all year long.”

Tuesday was the day the local United Way gave out checks to the agencies who had successfully applied for grants last spring. The organization had set a goal of $175,000, but fundraisers and donations yielded a total of $182,660.34. Jackson attributed the success to the generosity of the community.

“Every time we’ve had a fundraiser, it has surpassed our hopes, Jackson said. “It’s been a good year.”

The local United Way distributed all but two grants during Tuesday’s presentation. New agencies will  handle the Back to School Fair and the St. Francois County Children’s Dental Health Clinic this year. Those agencies will receive their checks at the end of their application process.

Vice President Dennis Smith said the local United Way had some doubts during this year’s campaign.

“Now and then we would think we weren’t going to make it to our goal, and then the donations would start trickling in,” he said. “This was an amazing year for fundraising!”

New sources for funding in 2011 included the 5K for the United Way race sponsored by the Future Community Leaders of St. Francois County, a Cowboy Mounted Shoot event sponsored by Missouri Big Irons and Caroling for a Cause by the North County Choral Music program.

Every penny given to the United Way goes toward the grants, unless the donor specifies that it is to be used for operating costs. In recent years, the board has increased – and met – its goal each year. Last year’s awards came to $151,457.80, which was a record amount until the 2011 fundraising campaign.

The United Way raises money through payroll deduction, individual contributions, corporate donations, fundraisers such as Girls’ Night Out and Dine Out for United Way as well as the annual Holiday Wishing Well Campaign.

Every April, nonprofit organizations in St. Francois County may apply for a United Way grant. The awards are announced in August, and the fundraising campaign begins in earnest in September.

In addition to the Salvation Army, agencies receiving grants from the United Way in 2012 are: Helping Hands of Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center, senior centers in Bismarck, Bonne Terre, Farmington and Park Hills; Habitat for Humanity of St. Francois County and SEMO Family Violence Council, St. Francois County Community Partnership’s Season of Hope, L.I.F.E Center for Independent Living, Parkland Foster Adopt Families, Farmington Meals on Wheels for Special Diets, Caring Communities of West County, North County and Central Schools, Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center, Bismarck Church of God Food Pantry, Farmington Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry, Elvins Food Pantry, St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantries in Desloge and Farmington, Bonne Terre Ministerial Alliance, Children’s Advocacy Center, Shared Blessings Homeless Shelter, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, Young Faith in Christ.

The United Way of St. Francois County has its roots in the Salvation Army bell ringing program.

In 1988, at the request of the Salvation Army, volunteers in Farmington began ringing bells during the holidays to benefit that organization and Farmington food pantries. Eventually, the group formed the Farmington United Fund and began to raise money to benefit Farmington agencies all year long. In 1998, they changed their focus to the entire county and changed the name of the organization to the United Way of St. Francois County.

Current members of the United Way Board of Directors are: President Paula Jackson, retired from Farmington School District; Vice President Dennis Smith, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department; Vice President Kelly Barnes, USA Drug; Treasurer Sue Evans, First State Financial Services; Secretary Tammy Bracken, Serenity HospiceCare; Jackie Berry, Mineral Area College; Greg Camp, city of Desloge; George Easley, Daily Journal; Mary Lee Faircloth, retired from Central School District; Mike Gladbach, retired businessman; Kerry Glore, St. Francois county treasurer; Mark Hedrick, St. Francois county clerk; Kelly Legan, First State Community Bank; Peggy Ropelle, retired from Mineral Area College; Brice Sechrest, attorney; Stacy Stevens of West County School District; Jamie Strange, Belgrade State Bank; Shelly Tate, Ozarks Federal Savings and Loan; and Mark Toti, KREI/KTJJ.

Executive director is Donna Hickman.

For more information, contact Hickman at the United Way’s office at 739 E. Karsch Blvd., Farmington or, call 573-760-8929 or e-mail her at The organization’s website is

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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