DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -The United Way of Stephens County is trying to get all the help they can before their fundraising campaign comes to an end.
They started in October with a goal of $350,000 to support their 14 member agencies, such as the Women's Haven and Duncan Senior Citizens Center. They're about 70 percent of the way there with only a month left in the campaign.
Ed Darling, the executive director for United Way of Stephens County, says has been a difficult year for the city of Duncan because of the downturn in the economy related to the oil industry. Many people have lost their jobs, so the need is greater, but families' budgets are tighter and they're not able to give as much either. Even so, he remains optimistic that the community's compassion will shine through.
Christian's Concern, one the 14 agencies that depends on the United Way for funding, is a food bank that feeds those in need. They also help people in need of paying their utility bills and doctor bills.
"Many times they are very, very humiliated to have to ask for help. Whether it is a financial help or food. So, it's our responsibility to make them feel good about themselves," explained Penny Gardner, Christian's Concerns' executive director.
Gardner is the only paid employee at Christian's Concerns, the rest are all volunteers. The average age of those volunteers, 70. Gardner says without the support of the United Way, the number of people they could help would be limited.
"This is a very generous community and I'm sure that we would somehow come up with it, but it would be a whole lot more work," Gardner said.
Darling says this year's campaigning efforts got off to a slow start due to him starting with United Way in the middle of the year. Now, things are back on track.
"We're very blessed, we have a very generous community. There's a lot of good, worthy causes here and a lot of people recognize those causes. In doing so, they are very generous with their proceeds and support for the volunteers and things of that sort," Darling said.
Darling says the United Way's pledge to its donors is to take local money and address local needs that will help local people. This keeps the money at home, making the campaign about people helping people, and not numbers.
"Without the support of good businesses, good industries, solid individuals, people who understand their ability to give…we would not be successful at all," Darling said.
One percent of the $350,000 goes to United Way. The rest is divided among the 14 agencies according to their needs.
United Way hopes to wrap up their fundraising campaign on Jan. 29. If you want to donate, you can send a check to
P.O. Box 1632
Duncan, Oklahoma 73534