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Charitable and philanthropic organizations have been well supported by the community since early days. Many organizations were especially interested in assisting people in poverty or hardship. The Women's Christian Association was founded in 1866. Early projects included providing clothes for freedmen, providing for the destitute, and finding homes for young girls who came to Minneapolis as strangers. Over the years they have managed homes for young men, young women, and aged women. Other early organizations were the Young Men's Christian Association, Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum, Sheltering Arms, Minnesota Soldiers Home, Bethany Home, the Pillsbury House (which grew out of the Bethel Mission), and the Unity House.
In 1884, Charles Brackett helped organize the Associated Charities of Minneapolis to help support cooperative work among the charitable agencies. Community Chest, United Fund, and the United Way are some of the organizations that have worked to raise charitable contributions to support a broad range of social services for the community of Minneapolis. Over the years, many organizations have stepped up to help fill a need within the community.