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A Publication of WTVP

Did you know that, in our six-county region, one in four children under the age of five live in poverty? Or that more than 40,000 people in our community do not have health insurance? Or that food on local food pantry shelves that would usually last for weeks is now gone within days?

Central Illinois’ health and human service agencies work 365 days a year to help people in need throughout our community. While annual holiday fundraising drives can help in the short run, we must also focus on meeting long-term needs—such as providing meaningful employment, job training, educational assistance, healthcare and childcare.

Many of us take the time to provide food and make donations during the holidays. However, all of us should work together to ensure the most basic of needs are met—not just once a year, but year-round.

Over the last year, we have continued to find our community coping with a struggling economy. While individuals and families have been directly affected, they are also beginning to feel how the state’s budget cuts and late payments are affecting many of our local agencies. As more people need help, dwindling resources are making the gap between the two even larger.

The way we collectively view helping people in need directly influences our community’s future. The solutions begin right here at home with the continuous generosity and volunteer support of central Illinois residents. Together, through our philanthropy and leadership, we can ensure programs that build self-sufficiency are in place and making an impact on the lives of people being helped.

The Heart of Illinois United Way invests in 96 local programs at 45 partner agencies—directly benefitting the lives of more than 1,100 people each and every day. These programs create a critical safety net to help those in need while providing long-term outcomes that will affect generations to come.

Our community needs your support of the Heart of Illinois United Way now more than ever. Think of the holidays as a time to start a year-round giving plan for your company, organization or family. From monetary donations to volunteering, several opportunities await your generosity and thoughtfulness. Consider adding a volunteer event or special gift drive to your office holiday party or gather your family together to help other families in need.

We wish for you to have a happy holiday season, and as always, to live united. iBi

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