United Way of Southwest Oklahoma (UNSWOK)
United Way of Southwest Oklahoma (UNSWOK)

Momentum is building but more contributions and donations are needed to meet the $1.25 million goal set by the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.

Lauren Ellis, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma, said the campaign donations have trickled in compared to previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In other years, we’ve made in-person presentations, but this year we’ve had to go to virtual meetings and it’s just been different all the way around,” she said. “It’s just been slower than in previous years, but our momentum is starting to build so we’re confident we’ll get there.”

The United Way campaign has brought on new corporate sponsors this year, which is a bonus for 2020.

“In 2019, we had over 175 businesses that supported the campaign through employee and corporate giving, totaling $1,182,285. We are excited to welcome several new and returning businesses to this year’s campaign, which will provide a much-needed boost, especially during such a challenging year,” Ellis said.

COVID-19 has impacted the United Way campaign and the way the organization operates, including the cancellation of several fundraising events and the disruption of volunteer efforts.

“We have been committed to do whatever we can to continue business as usual,” Ellis said. “We have seen our community rise up in their support efforts in ways I could not have imagined. Our funded partners continue to amaze me with their innovative and creative ways to ensure business continuity and service provision. I am very proud of our community, our general donors and our partners for continuing to do their very best for the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma and those who need our help the most.”

Cancellation of the annual Blue Tie Gala left the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma with a $30,000 deficit. But in an effort to mitigate the financial loss, Ellis and her team created a sponsorship package and encouraged their loyal event sponsors to continue their gala gift as a direct gift to the annual campaign. They were able to secure 18 sponsorships, many of which chose to increase their level of support so the $30,000 goal could be reached. “We are so excited to be able to offset what would have been a huge loss in event revenue and we could not have done this without the unwavering support of our loyal sponsors,” Ellis said. 

Although fundraising has been tough in 2020, the group’s goal remains the same, which is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power within the community.

“Execution of that mission has never been more critical,” Ellis said. “We and our partners continue to push every day to create positive impact throughout our community. People who have never needed assistance are now seeking it, and our partners are serving higher numbers than ever before. It is more important than ever to support the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma and our partners to ensure that our community is able to recover from the negative effects of COVID-19.”

For more information, or to donate or volunteer with the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma, call (580) 355-0218, or visit https://www.uwswok.org and click “Donate” or “Volunteer.”

United Way of Southwest Oklahoma supports the following non-profit organizations:

• Armed Services YMCA • Boy Scouts

• CASA of Southwest Oklahoma

• Catholic Charities

• C. Carter Crane Center for Empowerment and Advancement

• Center for Creative Living

• Christian Family Counseling Center

• Family Promise of Lawton

• Girl Scouts

• Hearts That Care Volunteer Health Clinic

• Lawton Food Bank

• Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma

• Lawton Family YMCA

• Marie Detty Youth & Family Services

• Roadback, Inc.

• Success by 6

• The Salvation Army • Teen Court