, Muskogee, OK

February 20, 2013

United Way short from previous drive’s tally

Difference is roughly $21,000

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Donations for 2012 were down about $21,000 for the Lake Area United Way, officials said.

Nonetheless, the organization had its annual banquet, meeting and awards ceremony Wednesday and honored those who contribute throughout the year.

Executive Director Debi Busch reported that donations totaled $598,585 for 2012, down from the $619,308 collected in 2011.

“It’s the first time since 2006 we have dipped below $600,000,” Busch said. “The 2012 campaign was definitely less than we wanted it to be.”

She said 70 percent of all donations come from payroll deductions, which “shows how important our workplace campaign is.”

Corporate donations make up 27 percent and individual donations 3 percent, she said.

Busch told the attendees that the United Way plans to expand its efforts at fundraising and community service this year.

“One of the things we have been all about is looking outward, taking a really hard look at the communities we serve and determining what their real needs are,” she said. “And looking at what organizations are already doing toward meeting those needs. So, we are partnering with certain organizations to help them meet their missions.”

Of those organizations, Busch listed Action in Muskogee, area county health departments, the Muskogee Non-Profit Resource Center and the City of Muskogee Foundation.

Also new for 2013 is a special award in honor of the late Frank Medearis, who volunteered for the Lake Area United Way, Busch said.

“Frank was known to say, ‘I’m just here to be cute and fun,’ and we just loved him and his tireless volunteer efforts,” she said. “So this year we want to award at the end of the workplace campaign a ‘Cute and Fun’ award in his honor.”

The award will go to the most creative, cute and fun campaign fundraising event in the workplace, she said.

Annual awards also were presented at the meeting, including the Spirit of United Way award, received by Melony Carey of Muskogee Public Schools.

Georgia-Pacific was honored as the top contributor for 2012.

Vice President of Manufacturing Rodney Bond accepted the award for GP.

“I’m very proud to accept this award on behalf of GP,” Bond said. “We’re your neighbors. We live here. This is our town and we are proud to be here and proud to support the United Way.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or

Lake Area United Way Campaign Excellence Awards

Top contributors of 2012

First — Georgia-Pacific.

Second — OG&E.

Third — VA Regional Office.

Fourth — Oklahoma Natural Gas.

Fifth — C3Connect, Tahlequah.

Sixth — Firstar Bank.

Seventh — Advantage Controls.

Eighth — Muskogee Public Schools.

Spirit of United Way Award — Melony Carey, Muskogee Public Schools