The reach of the Franklin County Area United Way is so wide and long that at least one in three persons in the county are touched by the organization. That may be an understatement.

The headline in Wednesday’s Missourian told of the reach of the United Way: “Without the United Way . . . What Would Our Communities Look Like?” It was in the People Section, written by features editor Karen Cernich.

We could add: What would the quality of life be in Franklin County if it were not for the United Way?

The annual united drive for funds is reaching a climax this month with a lofty goal of $1,000,060. That $60 may seem odd. But there is an explanation. This is the 60th anniversary of a united campaign created to eliminate multiple drives for money, causing a drain on leadership and a feeling of helplessness on donors because of starting drive after drive just after one concluded.

The Franklin County Area United Way doesn’t just help people in need with emergency aid but it helps many youth and adult groups we take for granted, with a variety of member agencies that wouldn’t be the same without a financial lift from the United Way. These agencies enrich the environment in Franklin County.

There even is an economic spinoff from the good that the agencies of the United Way do. Industries seeking to expand or relocate look at the quality of life in a community — a county. It could be said that the United Way is a cog in the efforts to bring new jobs to Franklin County.

There are 48 agencies that are members of the Franklin County Area United Way. They range from youth groups to adult agencies that provide multiple services to people.

It’s an old saying that has found a home in many fund drives: “Dig a little deeper this year — the needs are so great and so important to the people in our community.” Never have those words been so timely as now.

We know it is a sacrifice for many people to give at this time when the economy is struggling to recover. But the people of Franklin County have always risen to the challenges they faced. We believe that will happen again this year. Leadership, volunteer workers and people who will make sacrifices — it’s all present in Franklin County.