KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — United Way of Greater Knoxville kicked off its 2019 campaign Thursday with food, brews and music.

The organization even had a little help from Knoxville-raised singer Chris Blue. 

The event raised funds for United Way's Knoxville programs — over a hundred initiatives that aim to improve the community's health, education and financial stability. 

The kickoff had local craft beer, food from Texas Roadhouse, and a tailgate theme — but this event is more than just a party. Campaign Chair Andy Shafer announced United Way of Greater Knoxville's 2019 fundraising goal: $9.5 million. 

To Shafer, that money will translate to concrete, positive change for the Knoxville community. 

"Every year we talk about the statistics — the number of programs and people that the United Way serves as a result of your giving — but have you ever wondered how this all works?" Shafer asked. "Who receives the help from the money we raise, and how the assistance really impacts their lives? I want to tell the story of the United Way by telling the stories of those it impacts."  

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Knoxville's United Way organization provides funds for 54 partner agencies — large-scale programs like Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, small local nonprofits like the Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of writing, and dozens in between. Organizers estimate that this year's campaign will help over 173,800 people in Knoxville.

"We want to raise a lot of money, so we can in turn give it out to some partner agencies that do a lot of great work here in Knoxville," Shafer said. "We want (the people who attend this event) to realize all the great work that United Way does in this community, and how we work, and why it's a great charity to give to."

Blue, who last week released his first single from his new EP, attended to make comments and sign autographs. 

RELATED: Chris Blue just released his first single from his new EP– listen to it here