PITTSBURG — United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas will kick off its 2017 campaign Thursday with a new approach.

The newly launched “Unite to Fight” campaign takes a historically different approach to United Way’s mission. Instead of focusing on the outcomes of its work, United Way is shining a light on the real issues present in the communities it serves — and highlighting what happens when access to education, health and financial stability aren’t available to some.

United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas Executive Director Duane Dreiling said these issues include poverty, homelessness and more.

“These are issues people don’t really talk about at the dinner table, but they are present in our community,” Dreiling said. “This year we are taking a more direct approach to show these issues and what it takes to fight them.”

United Way will announce its campaign goal for both regions and for southeast Kansas Thursday at the kickoff event, as well as expanding on its theme.

“We’ll announce our goals, but the event is also an opportunity to highlight the specific needs in our community,” Dreiling said. “It is a great venue to get the word out about what we are trying to accomplish.”

United Way uses campaign funds to invest in 48 programs through 38 community partners in the region. Local partners include Wesley House, Safehouse Crisis Center, the Family Resource Center and more. Over $990,000 was raised for southeast Kansas over the last five years.

United Way welcomes volunteers and community partners to join the kickoff event Thursday. The event begins at noon at Kansas Crossing Casino. A banquet lunch will be provided.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.