It’s an amazing feeling to receive help when help is needed. It can often mean the difference between despair and hope. That’s what the United Way of Central Missouri offers to mid-Missouri residents: hope. Since 1925, it’s been serving the counties of Cole, Moniteau, Miller, Osage and southern Callaway and will continue to be a beacon of hope to those in need. However, to do so means raising the funds to support its 24 current partnering agencies.

Each year, the United Way reviews its partner agencies to determine budgets and need and then has an annual campaign to raise the needed funds. This year’s campaign theme is “You Can Make Dreams Come True,” and Lori Massman, campaign co-chair, says some special friends will help get that message across: the Muppets.

“The Muppets themselves were a community, looking out for each other and just trying to make the world a better place by telling their story through laughter and songs of hopes, dreams and progress,” Massman says. “The Muppet theme is meant to inspire people to reach for a meaningful accomplishment, and that is the United Way. Our vision this year is to inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow.”

Massman says the organization’s objective was to determine the campaign goal while being sensitive to the fact that every family’s budget is being stretched and that each of the partnering agencies is receiving more requests for services.

The goal for the 2013 campaign is $1.7 million, which reflects a $50,000 increase from 2012. “The 2013 campaign has one very specific goal,” says Executive Director Ann Bax. “We want to do more and do better for those we serve and make a difference for the long term for our community.”

“The money stays here to serve our neighbors and friends,” Massman adds.

The community campaign kicked off on Aug. 29 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and will continue with employee sponsors hosting events and activities through the end of the campaign, which will culminate on Nov. 7 with the Victory Celebration at Missouri Farm Bureau, where the final projected campaign totals are announced to the community.

In addition to monetary donations, the United Way lives united with the help of its many volunteers. “Lori has served in almost every United Way volunteer capacity and most recently was awarded the Live United Award for outstanding volunteerism,” Bax says of Massman’s work with the organization.

Andy Fechtel is Massman’s co-chair for this year’s campaign, and, according to Bax, his United Way volunteerism dates back to high school when he served on the United Way Board of Directors as the high school student liaison.

“One of the many reasons Lori and Andy were tapped to lead the campaign is due to the passion and dedication they have given in their respective leadership roles in their United Way campaigns at Scholastic and Fechtel Beverage and Sales,” Bax says. “They have taken their campaigns to new levels of success and are confident they will do the same with the community campaign.”