While this year's goal remains the same, changes are planned for the United Way of South Central Oklahoma annual fundraising drive.

"Where we've seen a decline in funding, we want to be active and out there and reach people who don't know what we do and why we do it," says drive chair Sara Donaho-Jones.

The drive kicked off at the Ardmore Convention Center Thursday.

Increased visibility will include an ice cream social at Central Park on Oct. 1. Also, Red Dirt Brewhouse will have two United Way benefit concerts: Aaron Newman on Oct. 19 and Derek Harris on Oct. 24.

The Community Hero Awards Red Carpet Reception and Banquet will be Oct. 10, about halfway through the campaign.

Tickets will be sold for $15, with all proceeds going toward the 2013 campaign.

"We will celebrate these heroes and help meet our 2013 campaign goal," says Tay Harvey, event organizer.

Campaign report meetings will be themed, with participants encouraged to dress up. All meetings will be at 11:30 a.m.

- Sept. 24 at First National Bank Community Room second floor with a luau theme

- Oct. 8 at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center business development center rooms 206-208 with wild west theme

- Oct. 22 in Ardmore Public Library Smith Room with Halloween theme

- Nov. 5 at HFV Wilson Community Center with fiesta theme

- Nov. 12 at Noble Pavilion with tailgate theme

Thursday's kickoff included a pep talk in the form of a Kid President video. Then Karen Kennedy of Legal Aid Services and Lesley Dvorak of the Grace Center shared stories of success from their organizations.

Divisions that have already reached 100 percent participation as well as pacesetters were given awards for their work so far.

Pacesetters, businesses that have already turned in their employee contribution totals, have raised $163,070.

The goal for this year is again $850,000.

Love/Marshall County Retired Senior Volunteer Program is a new agency for this year.

Agencies are excited to get the campaign underway.

"I'm excited because they seem to be making it very festive and fun," said Michelle Snyder, executive director of Arbuckle Life Solutions.