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Oklahoma State University began the 2023 United Way campaign at a luncheon Thursday in the Student Union Ballroom.

OSU kicks off United Way campaign

Friday, September 8, 2023

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

Oklahoma State University began the 2023 United Way campaign at a luncheon Thursday in the Student Union Ballroom.

OSU is the largest campaign contributor for the United Way of Payne County campaign and its goal is to contribute $275,000 to the overall $1 million goal. 

Kyle Wray, OSU senior vice president for executive affairs, shared with everyone how even the smallest donation of time or funding can make a difference in the life of one person.  

“That's what the land-grant does, people are important at the land-grant universities,” Wray said. “We want to make sure that people have access and we treat people the right way. This is part of what the land-grant mission stands for.”  

This year the campaign theme is “United We Thrive.” OSU’s contribution goal makes up more than 25% of the Payne County goal. Last year, OSU exceeded their goal of $250,000.  

Funds collected during this campaign will serve 22 agencies that can impact 25,000 individuals, said Ruth Cavins, United Way of Payne County executive director.  

Kendra Burtrum shared how she never envisioned being someone who utilized the services provided by United Way. That is until her daughter, Gracen, had a stroke in the fifth grade, leaving her with some intellectual deficits and debilitation in one of her arms.  

When Gracen graduated high school, Burtrum questioned what was next. Through her experience with United Way, she was able to connect Gracen with MPower — an agency that provides employment, and residential and adult day services for individuals with developmental disabilities— to find a job she still holds today.   

Through another United Way agency — Stillwater Group Homes — Gracen has been able to move out of her parents' house and gain more responsibility.   

OSU Provost Jeanette Mendez loves being part of the Cowboy family because of how they come together to give back to the broader community outside of OSU.  

“I think what brings us together and what reinforces this family atmosphere at OSU is when we do something like contribute to United Way and gather for the chili cook-offs or gather for all the various events that are hosted,” Dr. Mendez said.  

Leon Jones, OSU chief of police, and Julie Weathers, Spears School of Business director of strategic initiatives and assessment, serve as OSU’s campaign coordinators.  

During the luncheon, OSU’s Varsity Review presented Jones and Weathers with a check for $60,000. So far, OSU has already raised $64,085, making up 23% of the campaign goal.  

United Way of Payne County improves the lives of families and individuals by investing donated dollars and volunteer time in nonprofit partner agencies.  

Coordinators throughout OSU volunteer to organize each department's annual campaign. Coordinators work with the OSU United Way campaign chairs to determine goals, events and the best way to allow each employee the opportunity to donate. 

Faculty and staff members can participate in the annual United Way campaign through payroll deduction and events held on campus.  

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