Tulsa, OK – More than 4,100 volunteers participated in the Tulsa Area United Way's 20th annual Day of Caring on Friday, Sept. 9.
Volunteers gathered for a free breakfast and program at the Expo Square Pavilion before dispersing across the Tulsa area to work on projects for 61 Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) partner agencies.
The Day of Caring was the official beginning of the TAUW's 2011 Campaign, which concludes on Nov. 10. The goal of this year's campaign is $24,556,573, which is slightly higher than last year's campaign, said Mark Graham, President and CEO.
"Tulsa-area residents enjoy a proud tradition of helping those less fortunate in our community," said Graham. "However, the need this year may be greater than ever and supporting the critical services these agencies provide has never been more important."
Tulsa's Day of Caring is one of the largest such events in the nation, with volunteers logging more than 30,000 hours of work on 360 projects, Graham said. Williams served as sponsor of the event.
The Day of Caring breakfast and program featured a presentation of fundraising results of the Trailblazers - 17 Tulsa-area companies and organizations that agreed to conduct early campaigns, launching their efforts in August, and pledging to increase their company goals by at least 10 percent. As a group, the Trailblazers surpassed their goal by raising a total of $2,550,395.
"The Trailblazer companies and their employees have set the momentum for the 2011 campaign," said Rod Sands, this year's Trailblazer chairman and President and CEO of Explorer Pipeline of Tulsa. "They have set the bar high for the thousands of employers who will participate in this year's campaign."
Trailblazer companies and organizations included Tulsa Cares, Explorer Pipeline, Properties Plus, Inc., Spirit Bank, McAfee and Taft, Leaders Life Insurance Co., Melton Truck Lines, Bank of Oklahoma, Hillcrest Healthcare System and T.D. Williamson, Inc.
For the first time, a coalition of seven Tulsa-area accounting firms participated as a Trailblazer, including BKD, Ernst and Young, Grant Thornton, Hogan Taylor, KPMG, Stanfield O'Dell, and Woodrum, Kemendo, Tate and Westemeir.
Companies with the largest number of Day of Caring volunteers included Williams, 540; Bank of Oklahoma, 275; QuikTrip corporate offices, 265; Level 3, 155; the Tulsa-area accounting firms, 137; ONEOK, 125; Magellan Midstream Partners, 105; Tulsa Public Schools, 100; Tulsa Community College, 96; and the TAUW Women's Leadership Council, 95.
Gifts from individuals make up 62 percent of the total $24.5 million campaign goal, with 28 percent coming from corporate gifts and 10 percent from foun dations, Graham said.
"All of the money raised here stays here to help our local citizens," he said.
Mid-campaign results will be announced at "Luchapalooza," a festival on Oct. 1 in downtown Tulsa, in front of the Elote restaurant. The street party will feature music, food, children's activities and wrestling matches by Elote's "Luchadores," who have served as mascots of this year's campaign. Sponsor of the event is Bank of Oklahoma.
The campaign will conclude at "Unite!" on Nov. 10 at the Lorton Performance Center at the University of Tulsa.
The goal for the campaign was set after 150 volunteers invested four months and 8,000 hours carefully analyzing the community's most pressing needs, Graham said.
In its 87-year history, TAUW has raised and invested more than $593 million in the Tulsa-area community. TAUW has earned a four-star rating in organizational efficiency by Charity Navigator for operatin g expenses of 9.37 percent, placing it in the top three percent of the most efficient United Ways in the U.S.