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It doesn't take much work for most of us to imagine what it's like to teeter over or near a financial cliff.

A large portion of Region residents live paycheck to paycheck.

Too many people fall within the category of working poor, with family breadwinners earning too much to qualify for public assistance but treading just above the poverty line.

Most of us would agree these are among the people in our society who most deserve assistance: hard workers who, for a host of reasons, haven't been able to find a way to get ahead.

For the second year in a row, those in the Region who have the means and heart to do so will get a chance to provide that help in a very special way.

Lake Area United Way is looking for the brave and adventurous among us who are willing to raise or pledge $1,000 and then walk backward off the roof of a perfectly good building.

On Oct. 12, those who can muster a $95 registration fee and are successful in raising the $1,000 in funds will be strapped into a special harness hooked to ropes and will rappel off the 80-feet-high roof of the Centier Bank headquarters in Merrillville.

This year, participants in the Over the Edge program will have the option of joining one of six teams: Mental Health of America of Northwest Indiana, Meals on Wheels, Tradewinds, Foodbank of Northwest Indiana, Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana and the Lake Area United Way itself.

The $1,000 raised by each registered participant will help one of those private, nonprofit charities keep hard-working but vulnerable individuals and families from teetering over the edge of life's challenges.

As I did last year, I challenge anyone who is financially able or willing to raise the money to sign up online for Over the Edge at https://nwiedge.com/.

You won't be alone if you participate.

For the second straight year, I'll be strapping on rappelling ropes, helmet and harness and walking backward off the five-story Centier Bank building to help raise funds for the cause.

This year, I'm joining Team Lake Area United Way.

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The organization's tireless dedication to helping the working poor through private donations and fundraising has resonated with me since the organization honed its mission focus a few years ago.

But all of these Over the Edge charities deserve equal billing for the good they do in the community.

Even if the thrill seeking of rappelling off the Centier building isn't your thing, your donations — in any amount — to the cause can be made at the same website listed earlier in this column.

Poverty lurks around every corner for too many Region families.

Mental health challenges plague too many lives.

Too few opportunities exist in our society for children and adults with special needs.

And too many people go to bed at night with growling stomachs because other pressing needs, including medicine or child care, sapped their food budgets.

All of the charities benefiting from this year's Over the Edge event do battle with those challenges with private funds every day.

It's a service to our community not provided by any government program — but just as important, or perhaps even more so, than public aid.

Each one of these charities is dedicated to keeping our neighbors from teetering over the edge of their own challenges in life.

Please join me in helping them. 

The best plan of fighting a conflagration is preventing the sparks that cause the fires to begin with.

Local News Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or marc.chase@nwi.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marc.chase.9 or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.

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