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In response to increased community need, the Callaway County United Way is launching a fund dedicated to supporting COVID-19 response efforts.

"We are all feeling anxious and worried about what comes next, but if we can each pitch in a small amount, we can make a big difference for our family, friends and neighbors," said CCUW Vice President Jacque Brazas. "I'm proud of our local businesses for their commitment to supporting our community and specifically to my employer, Riley & Stingley P.C., for its early support of the COVID-19 Response Fund. If you have the ability to make a donation to the fund, it is greatly needed and appreciated."

CCUW supports a dozen local nonprofits, including the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence, Our House, Callaway Senior Center, SERVE and others. Demand for services at those nonprofits has increased as the pandemic worsens.

"It is critical that these agencies have the resources necessary to continue to operate at the highest capacity to serve individuals and families in Callaway County," said CCUW Executive Director Megan Prenger. "The CCUW's mission is to improve the quality of life for all the people in Callaway County. We appreciate all the support we receive from the community each year and we are ready to stand up and support our community and agencies during this crisis. Together we know we will get through this, if we live united!"

That's why the CCUW has started the Callaway County United Way COVID-19 Response Fund. Every penny donated to the fund will go toward the CCUW agencies "that ensure our neighbors can access basic needs in this time of immediate crisis."

According to Prenger, donations will help:

Address access to basic household needs, such as cleaning and sanitation supplies, food, personal care, baby supplies and hygiene items.

Provide basic needs to support homelessness and aid in stabilization of community residents, including emergency utility, rent, and mortgage assistance and temporary shelter.

Respond to calls for mental health and trauma counseling for children and adults.

Support the needs of seniors.

Donations can be made by cash, check or credit card. Checks should be made payable to Callaway County United Way and mailed to P.O. Box 793, Fulton, MO 65251. Indicate "COVID-19 Response Fund" in the check's memo field.

"People could donate their federal stimulus checks to support this fund if it isn't needed for their own immediate needs," Prenger said.

Callaway County's commissioners voiced their support of the fund and CCUW in a joint statement.

"The United Way of Callaway County has always been an immense supporter of the local nonprofit organizations in our region," the statement reads. "We firmly believe that over the next several months, these nonprofits will need additional funds to meet the needs of Callaway County citizens due to the current COVID-19 pandemic."

The county will donate toward the fund, the commissioners added.

To learn more about Callaway County United Way or donate online, visit callawayunitedway.com.

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