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      Columbia United Way prepares to cut budget

      The Columbia Area Boys and Girls Club could be affected by Heart of Missouri United Way's budget cuts.

      The Heart of Missouri United Way in Columbia is cutting its budget by nearly 10 percent after falling $1 million short of its fundraising goal.

      The shortage of money could have dire implications for non-profit organizations that depend on United Way for funding.

      Some of the groups that depend on United Way for funding include the Central Missouri Food Bank and Columbia Boys & Girls Clubs. Executive Director of Columbia Boys and Girls Clubs Valorie Livingston said with budget cuts coming to the United Way, she fears there may be fewer spots for children.

      "Our Boys and Girls Club budget receives about 10% of the funding from United Way," Livingston said. "So typically, that reduction could impact our ability for us to provide the same number of services to kids."

      Livingston said United Way funding is a lifeline for them. Without it, their organization may have to lay off one eighth of their staff. The Columbia Boys & Girls Club currently employs around 43 people.

      "As a funded program, if we do not have those funds available then we are unable to hire the number of staff that we need to hire in order to be able to serve as many children as we do," Livingston said.

      The Heart of Missouri Red Cross is also wary of United Way's situation. They went through a similar situation last year, losing about $90,000 worth of United Way funding.

      "It was and is still a very difficult thing for us to make up. $90,000 a year is a lot of money," said Clayton Kennedy, Community Market Manager with the Red Cross.

      However, Kennedy said he fears United Way budget cuts would trickle down to some of mid-Missouri's most vulnerable residents.

      "That's about 180 families that we won't be able to support, or have a harder time supporting," Kennedy said.

      The agency received pledges of $3 million last year. Its goal was $4 million.

      If you would like to make a donation to United Way, you can find out more by visiting their website.