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December 31, 2013

Stephens County United Way closes on 90 percent of fundraising goal

DUNCAN — United Way of Stephens County has reached almost 90 percent of its $350,000 goal.

This time last year, the organization had raised about 60 percent of its overall goal. And in 2010 and 2011, only 50 percent of the goal had been reached by the same time.

“We’ve raised more money in the last four months than we did the whole campaign last year,” Lauren Ellis, United Way executive director, said. “I’m proud of the volunteers. I want everyone to get excited.”

Money raised by the county United Way office goes to help people through 16 partner agencies throughout the county. About 99 percent of the money raised in the county stays in the county to help local people.

If the United Way goes above its goal, that’s more money that will go to the agencies to help people in Stephens County. Ellis said she’s looking to continue the success of the campaign, even after goal is met.

“We’re positive we will make goal,” she said. “Businesses have increased their giving. This has been a huge community effort.”

Ellis has been impressed with the community’s support of this year’s campaign. She said some other United Way office in Oklahoma are struggling in this year’s campaign. She’s glad Stephens County has gone above and beyond to make goal a reality.

“(People) still have until the end to make a donation for it to be accepted as a tax deduction for next year,” said Ellis. “As long as it’s postmarked by (today), it should be accepted. We’re still trying to raise as much as possible.”

The campaign began in September. The kickoff event was a follies program, which informed people about the various agencies and served as the first fundraiser for the campaign. While Ellis knew this would be a way to encourage people to give to the agencies and to support the campaign, she is surprised by how quickly the campaign has approached its goal.

“These are pledges we have actually received,” Ellis said of the 95 percent already raised. “I want to get the community energized about what they’ve done.”

With the success of this campaign so far, Ellis is already planning to increase the 2014-15 campaign goal. She said the final decision on next year’s goal will be up to the United Way of Stephens County Board.

Rebeka Miller

contributed to this story.

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