United Way of the Quad-Cities Area announced Wednesday that it raised $8.4 million in its 2013 campaign, roughly the same as the previous year.

The organization had hoped to raise a bit more than that, but at an upbeat ceremony, officials noted that companies and individuals across the region opened their wallets to make a difference.

"It's much more than just a number that we've accomplished together," said John Riches, campaign co-chair. "Thousands of people giving back, thousands of lives being changed every day is the powerful example of what it means to live united."

United Way funds about 90 programs, with the money invested to improve education, incomes and health outcomes.

United Way raises money year-round, but its four-month campaign, from August through December, is when thousands of people across the region give money through their employers.

A goal of $8.85 million was set for 2013. This year's amount was about $450,000 short.

Scott Crane, president of United Way, said the 2013 goal was "aggressive." But he also noted the economy was a factor, as the area recovers from the recession.

In addition, he said, the partial shutdown of the Rock Island Arsenal late last year likely had an impact.

"I think when you see an employer as large as the Arsenal that's shut down, it sends a message of uncertainty," Crane said.

Much of its island's workforce was idled last fall when the federal government experienced a partial shutdown over 16 days in October.

"Charitable giving is through a person's disposable income, and so when people are uncertain, they begin to pull back a little bit," Crane said. "And folks are very generous, and we appreciate that, but at the same time, I think there's some concerns still."

Wednesday's announcement was made at Hand-in-Hand, a Bettendorf-based agency that provides a range of services to children and adults, particularly those with disabilities.

Mark Smith, Hand-in-Hand's chief executive, said United Way provides about 10 percent of its operating funds, and with costs going up each year, it is a vital part of its budget.

"I call it our mission money," he said.

Last year, the agency received $60,000 from the United Way, which includes funds directly from the organization as well as specially directed donations from United Way donors.

Hand-in-Hand programs include child care and respite services, day and summer camps, art programs, a teen center and special-needs Girl Scout troops.

Crane noted that while the amounts given over the past three years have been stable to slightly higher, some of his peers have experienced more difficulty.

United Way officials say they are planning their 2014 campaigns but have not set a goal.

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