“Just imagine ... ”

Those words were used this week to describe a number of unimaginable situations many local students face at Ottawa schools. The situations detailed — though no names, ages or school identities were provided — are touching examples of how site coordinators and others work to help many disadvantaged students face their challenges at school each day.

How do they do it? Through the positive and caring relationships some children experience at school, often amid difficult home lives, thanks to Communities in Schools — just one of 15 local United Way member agencies making a difference to inspire and improve our community.

More than 15,000 Franklin County residents have been helped by United Way agencies in the past year. Just imagine if those organizations weren’t there to help those people who might need situational assistance and might otherwise fall through the cracks. Whether the need was for domestic violence intervention, hospice care, emergency food and health care needs, Meals on Wheels, or care for abused and neglected children, those with cerebral palsy or mental health needs, it is clear such organizations as Big Brother Big Sisters, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Communities in Schools, Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance, Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County, Hope House, Mid-America Nutrition Center, Tiny-K Early Intervention, LifeCare Center for Women, Midland Care Hospice, Ottawa Recreation Commission’s Summer Playground program, United Cerebral Palsy and Willow Domestic Violence Center might have had a hand in helping a friend, neighbor, relative, coworker or acquaintance.

The local United Way is on target, with $132,000 in pledges, to reach this year’s $160,000 fundraising goal, largely because of increased contributions from its agricultural and small business initiatives, as well as its corporate campaign efforts.

But more still needs to be done.

Just imagine everyone who has yet to give to the United Way this year pulling out the cash, checkbook or even debit card to make a donation of any size to help those who might not be in need now, but could be the ones on the receiving end of the funds in the future.

No one wants to imagine the struggles the people these organizations help every day must face.

Help provide a hand-up to those in need by donating whatever amount you can today at www.unitedwayoffranklinco.org

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher