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United Way kicks off 2014 Pacesetters Campaign

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LAWTON, Okla._Helping the community by raising money for local charities is the mission of the United Way of southwest Oklahoma.

They jump started their annual Pacesetters Campaign on Thursday with a luncheon at Comanche County Memorial. Their fundraising goal this year is $1.69 million and with the help of fourteen pacesetters they hope to reach it.

The money they raise every year goes to deserving agencies in southwest Oklahoma that help the community. This year, the money will go to nineteen partner agencies such as the Lawton Food Bank, the C. Carter Crane Shelter for the Homeless and the Salvation Army.

Most of the nineteen agencies rely on the money from the fundraiser to help keep them running each year. For the Lawton Food Bank, it amounts to about half of their yearly operating budget.

"The need is increasing every month, which is scary. So I'm very excited to get the United Way campaign kicked off and want to do everything well and get the community excited," said Lawton Food Bank Director Jeri Mosiman.

The Lawton Food Bank fed nearly 900 families each month last year and close to 1,000 every month so far this year.

"If United Way doesn't make the goal and we don't receive approximately the same amount of money every year...what we have to do is look at cutting back on the amount of food we give or the frequency in which we give it," explained Mosiman.

Campaign Manager Carlos Los Irizarry says they haven't achieved their campaign goal since 2009, but hopes to achieve their goal this year with a three step process: education, income and health and wellness.

"One of the things Lawton has to focus on right now is to be able to support these folks and have that leadership opportunity," said Irizarry.

Irizarry says they aren't giving hand outs; they are giving a hand up.

"We have so much history, so many excellent people here who do some amazing things and this is just part of that whole process of being able to know that I can give my time and effort to something that is valuable," said Irizarry.

Mosiman says whether you know it or not someone you know has benefited in some way from the United Way.

"They are very real people with very real stories and when you see them and listen to their stories, the things that are going on in their lives, the health issue they have, why they can't work....it breaks your heart and you want to do something," said Mosiman.

In years past, the pacesetters have raised nearly 60 percent of their goal. They hope to reach their campaign goal by their annual Day of Caring which is September 19.

 

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