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United Way’s campaign — offering Hope 4 Kids

The 2019-2020 United Way campaign is taking place with a theme of “Hope 4 Kids — Offering our Kids a Brighter Future.” This year’s goal is $425,000.

In 1928, a group of generous and committed Fort Dodge leaders established the Fort Dodge Community Chest. Frank W. Griffith, a noted local architect, was the board president, C.B. Smeltzer, a member of one of Fort Dodge’s founding families, was the campaign chair. The objective of this first community-wide campaign was to raise charitable dollars to help meet local critical human needs through philanthropy.

In 1956, it was decided to transition the Community Chest to United Way, joining over 1,000 other communities in America. The first United Way campaign raised local dollars to support programs and organizations that were helping low income families and their children. This mission for United Way in Fort Dodge has not changed since its beginnings over 90 years ago.

United Way of Greater Fort Dodge remains committed to helping our youth thrive. Unfortunately, national research by United Way of America shows that 25% of the youth in our community live at or below the poverty level and, another 40% live in households that struggle to meet their basic living expenses to pay for housing, utilities, food, clothing, and transportation.

Too many children living in poverty are lacking their most basic needs. Some live in substandard housing — some are even homeless. Many are hungry and do not have enough food to eat. Others lack adequate clothing. About 5% of youth live in families that have no personal transportation. Some kids go without medical care. Many are coping with depression and mental health issues. Numerous children are dealing with trauma in their lives including abuse and domestic violence.

The highest priority of United Way of Greater Fort Dodge is helping these disadvantaged children. There are a myriad effects of poverty on children and coping with the social ills of poverty creates tremendous stress on these kids which leads to lasting impacts on their learning, healthy development, self-esteem and overall well-being. United Way is here to help these kids in many ways by providing them with a “helping hand” and giving them a lift up.

The United Way campaign is truly a “community” process — it is all about “neighbors helping neighbors” and people coming together to support this mission. United Way support is focused on helping our youth reach their full potential so they can grow and develop into healthy, productive, self-sufficient and successful citizens, employees, and parents. A big part of our community’s future will be determined by our commitment to our youth. A small investment in their positive development today will pay great dividends in the future.

We hope you will strongly consider supporting this year’s United Way campaign. 100% of every dollar donated to United Way stays here in Fort Dodge and is used in ways that touch the lives of hundreds of local children, sometimes even in life-changing ways. Together we can give them hope for a better and brighter future.

To donate to United Way, checks can be made payable to United Way of Greater Fort Dodge and mailed to the our office at 24 N. Ninth St., Suite B, Fort Dodge, Iowa, 50501.

Dave Ostheimer is the honorary campaign chair.

Randy Kuhlman is the CEO of the United Way of Greater Fort Dodge and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation.