Community Impact Programs

Box of Love

United Way of Central Kansas brought a new Community Impact Project to the area in 2017 with a Box of Love.  Working with ElderCare, Meals on Wheels, and Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice, 150 Valentine’s Day boxes were delivered to homebound seniors in Barton County.  With the help of Volunteers in Action/RSVP, athletes from Barton Community College put these boxes together full of donations from the community.  Each box was then topped off with homemade Valentines made by Great Bend Children’s Learning Center, Caring Hands Daycare, and Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, with even more made by children in the community who wanted to help.  United Way recognized that there are numerous youth projects in the area, but little was being done for the seniors, and decided that this would be a great way to show these members of our community that we care and that they are important to our community.  Box of Love started out as just covering Great Bend, but due to the huge success of the program, boxes were also delivered in Ellinwood and Hoisington the first year of the program.  Due to the huge success our first year, this program was expanded into Pawnee County in 2018. We owe a huge thank you to all the community members who donated, the businesses that were drop off locations, and churches that embraced this project and made generous donations to get these boxes in the hands of so many in our community. 

Reality U

The United Way of Central Kansas has brought Reality U, from the Pando Initiative to Great Bend and a combined event which includes Central Plains, Ellinwood, St. Joseph's, Chase, Kinsley, Hoisington, Larned, Otis-Bison, and Pawnee Heights.  This event teaches students what life will be like after school, in the "real world". Students take a short online test with questions about their GPA, what they hope to be, whether or not they will be married, and if they want to have children.  These questions help the Reality U program determine how much the students would be earning and their life situation at age 26.  Then reality strikes and it is time to go shopping for the necessities in life.  Throughout the day students go to each of 12 booths including insurance, childcare, utilities, housing, transportation, and utilities.  At each of these booths, they have decisions to make about how much of their money they will spend and what they need.  If they go over budget, they have to figure out where they can cut expenses to make sure that they are within their budget.

Throughout the day there are also numerous speakers talking to the students about how the choices that they can make now can and will have an impact on their lives at 26.  Some of these topics include the Cost of Delinquency, Stress Management, and Banking. 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a great way to introduce children to reading and encourages families to read together.  Each month a book is delivered, for free, to residents in the State of Kansas, for all children 0-5 who have enrolled at their local public library or online at Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.  These books include lessons for the parents to teach their children and are geared to the child’s age.

Studies of the Imagination Library show a positive and significant impact in regards to childhood early language and math development, regardless of demographic or socioeconomic factors.  By increasing a child’s access to early literacy materials, the child is more prepared for Kindergarten.  Kindergarten readiness is linked to future academic achievement and success later in life, which can impact the community in terms of better test scores throughout schooling, lower high school drop-out rates, and lower unemployment rates.  The Imagination Library also has been shown to encourage parents to read to their children, increasing bonding time and laying the groundwork for high quality child-parent interactions and increasing the consistent involvement of the parents in the child’s learning and development, which again increases future success for the child throughout school and life success. 

If you see the importance of early childhood literacy and would like to make a difference in the life of a child in Central Kansas, you can make a donation to United Way of Central Kansas to help us support this program.  With a donation of just $30 a year, you will be making an impact.  All you have to do is send a donation to UWCK and note that you would like to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. 

Stuff the Bus

Every summer, Stuff the Bus makes its rounds through Barton & Pawnee Counties. We host this event separately in the towns that we represent with a focus on what that community needs.

Ellinwood-We collect paper products for Ellinwood Heritage Senior Center and school supplies to stock the panty at USD 355 and St. Joseph's.

Hoisington-The Hoisington Community Food Bank collects food pantry items and school supplies for USD 431.

Great Bend-We fill backpacks for students at USD 428, Holy Family, and CKCA. 

Larned-Coming back in 2024! Keep an eye on our Facebook page to learn more.

Laundry Love


The Laundry Love initiative consists of regular opportunities to come alongside people who are struggling financially by assisting them with their laundry. Laundry Love partners with local laundromats in cleaning clothes and linens of low-income or no-income families and person(s).

We see the laundromat as an inclusive and welcoming place where strangers become friends, people are known by name, hope is hustled, and the worth of every human being is acknowledged and celebrated.

UWCK hosts this event monthly thanks to sponsorships. This is held in Great Bend at Discount Laundry (924 Jefferson St) on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10:00-2:00 and in Larned at Santa Fe Laundry (1309 Broadway St) on the final Wednesday of the month from 4:00-6:00. Follow our Facebook page for specific dates and sponsors. 



#RealWorld, a program designed to equip high school seniors with crucial life skills as they prepare to embark on their post-graduation journeys. Building upon the success of Reality U, which debuted in Great Bend in 2016, UWCK has expanded its efforts to further bridge the gap between classroom education and real-world challenges.