By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Mike McFarlane planted some seeds for a wildflower plot Thursday -- and some seeds for the area's future.
The United Way of the Mark Twain Area kicked off its 2013-14 campaign hoping to "grow a better tomorrow ... the United Way," with a goal of raising $577,000.
Holding the kickoff at the Common Ground community garden and planting seeds tied into the campaign theme and its potential impact across Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties.
"It's really symbolic of what we're trying to do through United Way in helping people to grow," said McFarlane, the 2013 campaign chairman. "We're planting wildflower seeds. They live through challenging times in the winter but flower and blossom in the spring. We can apply the same concept to help in the growth and independent of people in the communities across the five counties."
The goal is up $11,000 over last year, but McFarlane and assistant chairman Gary Broughton are confident the community will continue to support the growing needs of its member organizations.
"The need continues to grow, but the community demonstrated year after year generosity and giving and caring for each other," McFarlane said. "We'll have to work even harder than last year, but I know through the generosity of the community we'll be able to make that happen."
People gathered for the kickoff at the garden, with tents providing shade and fans helping to move the air as the temperature approached 100 degrees. US Bank provided a $500 donation to kick-start the campaign.
"We planned a contingency in the event of rain, but we had not planned on a contingency in the event of heat," McFarlane said. "I think the turnout is just a testament to people in this community, willing to come out in these conditions to support this campaign."
Money raised through the campaign goes to support youth, senior citizens, health and education programs, and people in need through more than 35 human service programs in Northeast Missouri. Additionally, the United Way creates community impact through collaborative efforts such as the Leader in Me program in the Hannibal Public Schools, Parents as Teachers, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and a new diversity initiative.
Campaign results will be announced in February.
• Sept. 26 — Day of Caring, Hannibal-LaGrange University, 7 a.m. Breakfast and volunteer projects in Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties.
• Sept. 27 — YMCA Family Carnival, 5-7 p.m.
• Oct. 3 — Taste of Missouri, Quality Inn and Suites, 6-8 p.m.
• Oct. 19-20 — Cookie Way Days at Autumn Historic Folklife Festival
• Early November — United Way/KHMO Radio Auction