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People giving to the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way increased their generosity in 2013 by 25 percent. That’s on top of a 28 percent increase in 2012. That’s huge.

The final tally from the recent fund drive was

$2.55 million.

The effort represents Bismarck-Mandan and the surrounding area, our larger community, embracing all of its members —- the young and old, rich and poor, but especially those who need a hand or need to be nurtured.

The fundraising success represents more than a big heart. It represents public confidence that local agencies are providing effective, responsible and accountable programs and services. It’s knowledge that if people give of their money and time, their gifts will be put to good use and not wasted. The contributions are a response to the credibility of the local United Way and the organizations it helps fund.

North Dakota’s weather and the challenges in agriculture, historically, have made its people self-reliant. But when the need arises, neighbors offer a hand, putting in and harvesting crops, building schools and churches or helping in a hard time. It’s been like that from the beginning.

Community in North Dakota and the connections of neighbors may be different today than they were at statehood. But that willingness to take care of our own has not changed. Only today, it’s expressed in the work of programs under the United Way umbrella.

We like that the United Way directs resources to address the underlying causes behind community problems, the idea being to get at the root of the issues rather than address only the symptoms — whether they involve literacy and reading, people struggling to live independently, hunger and nutrition  or other hard-to-solve problems in the community.

Yes, unemployment is low and the local economy is vigorous. Although the benefits of a strong economy provide opportunities, they are not always spread throughout the community evenly. Every person’s situation is different, some more difficult than others. That’s why we give.

The 2014 campaign will not begin until late this summer. In the meantime, take the time to check out some of the programs endorsed by United Way. See for yourself what’s being accomplished. Check it out.

The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way has done a good job for people living in Bismarck, Mandan and the surrounding area. It has accomplished that through the generosity of people in the community. Thank you all.