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OSU exceeds 2023 United Way campaign goal

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

Oklahoma State University surpassed its fundraising goal of $275,000 for Payne County United Way’s total campaign on Nov. 30.  

Led by co-chairs OSU Police Chief Leon Jones and Julie Weathers, director of strategic initiatives and assessment at the Spears School of Business, the OSU campaign kicked off in September as part of the Payne County United Way's $1 million campaign. 

The funds collected benefit 22 partner agencies, making a positive impact on individuals and families in Payne County. Varsity Review made a significant contribution of over $60,000 to initiate the campaign, and additional funds were raised through employee payroll deductions, one-time gifts and group fundraisers. 

Despite reaching its initial goal, OSU has continued its contributions, raising a total of $290,238 so far, with the campaign scheduled to continue through the end of 2023. Weathers said that approximately nine entities exceeded their goals, making a substantial impact on the overall objective.  

“It was the perfect theme, United We Thrive,” Jones said. “I think it was Garth Brooks that said the greatest thing you will ever be taught is to do something for someone you will never meet. So, that has always stuck in the back of my mind. And that's true. United, we do thrive. So that's what we do is just try to bring everybody together like we have always done during this campaign.”  

Jones and Weathers are examples of servant-leaders who use experiences to make an impact on their community. Jones, a United Way committee member last year, eagerly accepted the co-chair position this year as an opportunity to try and make a difference. Weathers has been involved in United Way as a Payne County board member and previously played a large role in Spears Business’ campaign. Her wealth of knowledge paired well with Jones’ new ideas made the campaign a success.  

"It's like everybody was pretty excited this year about giving,” Jones said. “This is the first time I've been as deep into it. I've always worked with the United Way since 1994 when I got here. I was always the sponsor for our department. Actually, being deep into it, I got to see a lot of cooperation. Everybody wanted to reach the goal. It just made everybody excited, and it made me excited.” 

The pair is proud of how the Cowboy family rallied together and personified the Cowboy Code by finishing what they started.  

“In campaigns, just seeing people come together to reach the goal and make a difference in our community is reward enough,” Weathers said. “Just to see all these different agencies and the impact that they have on the community is impressive.” 

Jones and Weathers both want to thank the Cowboy family for everyone’s participation in the campaign. As the campaign continues to collect funds until year-end, there is still an opportunity to contribute and assist Payne County in reaching its $1 million goal.

“The fact that we have payroll deduction is a huge factor,” Weathers said. “We certainly appreciate the support of President Shrum and continuing the legacy of the United Way and its importance. Provost Jeanette Mendez has generously sponsored the United Way OSU Kick-off campaign on an annual basis.  There are many OSU United Way coordinators and captains that exhibit great leadership abilities and spend much time in helping raise funds.  Ruth  Cavins, United Way Payne County executive director shared that about 99% of the funds raised stays local so funds raised directly help our local citizens.  I think everyone can make a difference from fundraisers to donations and payroll deductions. There are so many different ways you can be involved, including your time.”

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