At just five years old, Debby Hampton’s love for the United Way began. 

Her father worked for a company that donated frequently to one of the nonprofit’s campaigns, and he had earned a pin for his donation. Hampton, in turn, fell in love with that pin, so her dad had her complete some chores to earn it. Thus, her life’s passion was born. 

Hampton began her career at the American Red Cross, where she was introduced to infant crisis situations. She mentions she was always impressed by the work and resources offered by the United Way to these supporting organizations. 

Her career was varied after that, from being on a team that was sent to OKC’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after the bombing on April 19, 1995; to assisting in a variety of relief efforts after natural disasters that have struck the U.S. In short, Hampton has done always whatever she can do to help. 

A ‘standard’ day for Hampton isn’t what anyone would consider normal.

“It’s truly reacting to whatever happens that day,” says Hampton. “We make sure our partner agencies have the resources needed to assist in whatever needs are being met.” 

During campaign times, usually from Labor Day to Thanksgiving, Hampton is doing what needs to be done in order to ensure the nonprofit is meeting goals. She also works diligently to ensure total accountability for all funds donated; she’s invested in making sure every dollar is counted and utilized, and wants to make sure that donors are able to feel confident in their giving choices. 

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“Each year at the conclusion of our fundraising campaign, United Way goes through a volunteer-led community investment process,” says Ben Coldagelli, UWCO’s vice president of communications. “More than 200 donors volunteer their time to review partner agency funding requests, financials and programs, to ensure contributions are allocated to proven, high-quality programs that create long-term impact for anyone in need.”

For someone like Hampton, who has quite literally spent her entire life helping those in need, she embraces her role by remembering the lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing.

“They were just normal people going to work, going about their day,” she says. 

Being able to assist in resources for unsuspecting survivors gave her the boost she needed to take the United Way to its next level, which includes building a team that she speaks of like family.

“I get to do what I love every single day,” she says. “It doesn’t seem like work.” 

Every Penny in Place

To ensure the United Way is utilizing every cent donated to its maximum potential, leadership has created a step-by-step process. 

At the end of every campaign, a group of volunteer-led donors spend hours reviewing the donations made. They compare totals with need from their 55 partner agencies, they work to ensure those partner agencies have what they need to provide the most support. Every step is verified and checked. 

“Our annual allocations to each agency is made public and our organization’s audits and annual reports are readily available on our website,” says Coldagelli.

Photo courtesy United Way of Central Oklahoma