Campaign rallies more than financial aid



$2.4 million raised to assist to local nonprofits

In a year of uncertainty, the United Way of the Ozarks connected with Springfield and its surrounding communities to raise $2,483,401 – just one percent shy of last year’s total despite operating during a pandemic and economic uncertainty. The annual campaign, which ran from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, raised funds to help 22 local nonprofit partners.

“We live in a very generous community,” said Greg Burris, president and CEO of United Way of the Ozarks. “When COVID-19 reached our community last spring, the United Way of the Ozarks knew that our local nonprofits would be needed more than ever. When demand for services increased, we called on our donors and the local community to help us keep nonprofits operating safely. The result is truly a success to be celebrated.”

Greg Burris distributes hand sanitizer.

During 2020, United Way of the Ozarks created the Coronavirus Response Fund to assist local nonprofit partners during the pandemic. Greg Burris, UWO president and CEO, is among Operation Hand Sanitizer volunteers who distributed gallons of hand sanitizer in April 2020 to partners at no cost.

Employer-led contributions

Nearly 200 local organizations participate in workplace campaigns each year. Campaign co-chairs Jena Holtberg-Benge and Mark Walker led an executive campaign cabinet through a unique year of giving.

“Mark and I were thrilled to join forces with our campaign cabinet who actively engaged in reaching out to leaders in Springfield,” said Holtberg-Benge, general manager of John Deere Reman. “They led with purpose and demonstrated community ownership through their actions. We have the cabinet and UWO staff to thank for their tireless efforts in an unusual year, which made this campaign so successful.”

Walker, chairman and CEO of Transland, LLC, added, “United Way of the Ozarks campaign results of nearly $2.5 million is a reflection of our community spirit to help others when they are most in need. We are so grateful to all our business partners and community members who used digital technologies in new ways to bring the value of United Way to our donors.”

Responding to unprecedented times

Themed “Connect the Dots,” the 2020 campaign emphasized the connections between individuals, businesses, government and nonprofit agencies that help the community thrive. Traditional in-person campaign events were not possible during the pandemic. Transition to a digital donation platform allowed flexibility and expanded opportunities to contribute.

Response to the pandemic required immediate assistance to critical needs in the community. Reactions included:

  • Convening faith, civic and government leadership to ensure efficient and effective pandemic responses and community-wide communications.
  • Distributing more than 109,000 masks and face coverings.
  • Providing more than $185,700 in cleaning and sanitation supplies, virtual communication equipment and housing assistance to address immediate and long-term community recovery efforts.
Lisa Farmer of Harmony House receives Covid relief supplies.

Lisa Famer, Harmony House executive director, receives personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies from the United Way of the Ozarks. The supplies were made possible through UWO’s Coronavirus Response Fund that assisted local nonprofit partners during the pandemic.

History of support

For more than 90 years, the United Way of the Ozarks has worked to improve the quality of life by uniting community support. Currently, programs reach families in 14 surrounding counties. The annual campaign provides crucial support to programs that focus on health, education and financial stability to move families from crisis to stability.