BIG RAPIDS — Raising money to assist agencies which help people throughout the community is what the Mecosta-Osceola United Way "Live United" fundraising campaign is all about.

Again in 2013, local industry leaders and their employees helped significantly contribute to the campaign. One leader is Yoplait in Reed City, whose employees and cooperate match sponsors raised $163,000.

"We are proud of Yoplait employees and how they care for the overall campaign," said Elliott Brackett, campaign committee chairperson. "We raised $5,000 more than last year, but fell short by $2,000 with this year's goal. We have a generous company which matches employee donations dollar for dollar."

According to Mecosta-Osceola United Way executive director Betty Seelye, the company in Reed City now known as Yoplait has donated to the campaign for 25 years, with the first goal of $2,000 in 1988.

"They have always been very generous to this campaign," Seelye said.

Mosaic Potash Plant, of Hersey, reached 68 percent of their goal. Among special events and other company campaigns, the total raised in 2013 for the Mecosta-Osceola United Way was $528,676.

"We are at 96 percent of our goal," Seelye said. "We raised a little more than last year, which is good. People are showing support for an organization that helps the community it is in, especially with all these other fundraisers going at the same time. Getting this close to our goal demonstrates that people care about what we do."

The organization continues to focus on telling the stories of those helped by campaign contributions. Seelye said these stories help to illustrate who is benefitted by the United Way.

“I think we’re presenting a clear picture of what United Way dollars do in this community,” Seelye said. “Numbers say one thing to the people in Mecosta and Osceola counties, but real stories put a human face on these campaign dollars.”

The campaign dollars will be allocated to nonprofits that address basic human needs, safety and justice organizations, groups that help build successful families and youth mentoring services.

Applications from organizations looking for United Way funding must be filed by Friday, Feb. 14.

Allocation reviews will begin in March. Volunteers will examine each application from the 24 organizations expected to apply for funds and someone from each organization will give a presentation on how the money will be spent. Of the $528,676 raised, more than $400,000 will be awarded to local organizations, with the rest going toward operating costs and other expenses.

To assist with allocation review, Seelye is looking for volunteers from Mecosta and Osceola counties, preferably 30 to 40 people who understand what the campaign stands for and are willing to help.

“It’s a really great way to get involved," Seelye said. "Citizens of the community come together, they oversee the dollars that go to the agencies in the counties who are helping the community be a better place.”

To find out how to volunteer, contact Seelye by calling (231) 592-4144 or emailing unitedway@tucker-usa.com.