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United Way’s bell ringing underway

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United Way Bell Ringing 2022

United Way Bell Ringer Natalie Yim stands in front Desloge Walmart Wednesday. While the United Way expects to have 1,000 people ringing the bells at Farmington and Desloge Walmarts this season, there are still spots available for volunteers. Interested people or groups can sign up on the United Way of St. Francois County website, calling the office at 573-760-8929, or emailing director@unitedwayofsfc.org

From now until Dec. 23, people will be donning red aprons and ringing bells in front of Walmart stores in Desloge and Farmington for this year’s United Way Kettle Campaign.

Executive Director Cassie Thomas said while more than 1,000 people are expected to be bell ringers this year, the organization is still needing a few more volunteers to fill spots. Local businesses, churches, and community service programs generally commit to an entire day of ringing, and some groups such as sports teams, scouting groups, and student organizations can use this as a chance to get community service hours.

“The United Way appreciates the cooperation and participation of Farmington and Desloge Walmart, who allow the United Way collection kettles to be placed at their store entrances,” said Thomas. “This campaign would not be successful without our local businesses.”

Those interested in signing up can visit www.unitedwayofsfc.org, call the United Way office at 573-760-8929, or email director@unitedwayofsfc.com to sign up.

While the holiday season can be busy, residents for years have donated time and money to help United Way, in partnership with the Salvation Army, raise money for the county.

The United Way of St. Francois County was formed in the late 1990s starting as the United Way of Farmington in 1996. It then expanded to cover the entire county in 1999, changing the name to the United Way of St. Francois County.

In 1988, the Salvation Army approached the Farmington area looking for a group to run the yearly campaign. The funds from the original campaign would benefit three organizations: the Salvation Army, the Farmington Ministerial Alliance, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The original agreement is in effect today with just a slight change, as one-third of the funds goes toward the Salvation Army, where the money given to the Salvation Army is returned to St. Francois County for distribution in the county by the Salvation Army Board. The other two-thirds go to the United Way of St. Francois County for grant distribution.

This year, the United Way hopes to meet the $30,000 mark as it has for the past two years. All money raised will stay in the county, and is distributed to local agencies helping area residents.

After the first of the year, United Way will announce it is accepting applications for the funds, and on average the United Way helps 25 to 30 agencies in the area. Grants have previously been given to organizations such as the LIFE Inc. Center for Independent Living, Habitat for Humanity of St. Francois County, food pantries in the county, and multiple senior centers.

Danielle Thurman is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be contacted at dthurman@dailyjournalonline.com or 573-518-3616.

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