Home / Tis the season for giving: UTO family raises $3,500+ for the United Way at UTO Holiday Party

Tis the season for giving: UTO family raises $3,500+ for the United Way at UTO Holiday Party


Although the pandemic has changed the nature of events, that didn’t stop the UTO family from gathering safely to celebrate the holiday season. On Monday, December 7, over 300 members of the UTO family met virtually, via Zoom, to celebrate their exceptional efforts and dedication over the past year, while raising money for a great cause.

Celebrating and supporting community

UTO Gives Back PosterYear after year, UTO family members have continued the special tradition of including a Silent Auction – in benefit of the Valley of the Sun United Way – in their festivities to give back to the local community.

This year, UTO family members donated 25 items, from gift baskets to guitar lessons, for the virtual Silent Auction, and their colleagues didn’t disappoint when it came to generous bidding: UTO raised more than $3,500 virtually to benefit United Way!

Thoughtful planning that makes a difference, too

But along with running a successful fundraiser, hosting a virtual holiday celebration presents new opportunities for our team to engage with each other. In addition to the Silent Auction, Events Manager, Creative + Communications Erin Morrow and the planning committee went above and beyond to create a one-of-a-kind virtual event that would bring the family together – even if they couldn’t gather in person.

Some special touches included:

Holiday Party Virtual Background

Designing custom virtual backgrounds: Graphic designer Klariz Gapusan designed nine virtual backgrounds for UTO family members to choose from to add a little festive spirit to their Zoom square.

Annette Aquino

Sharing of holiday memories: Five longtime UTO family members were invited to share their most memorable experiences while working at ASU. Annette Aquino, a 20+ year member, shared how attending the OC Data Center Operations Holiday Potluck over the years has given her the long-lasting relationships with fellow family members that she never would have had. Her advice to others? “Don’t pass up those celebrations,” said Aquino. “Get out there and talk to people because later on is when you really cherish it and value it.”

Recognizing the achievements of the community: COO Jess Evans and Executive Director, Creative + Communications Samantha Becker recognized a few highlights from the past year, including UTO 2.1, ASU One Number Transition + Tech Essentials, ASU Sync + Classroom Installations + Faculty Training (which make teaching and learning remotely possible), Learning Futures, Heroic Experience Center Support, countless events and so much more.

Creating community from virtually any location:Technology continued to bring us together, using Zoom to host our main holiday party. However, leveraging Zoom’s various functions, as well as additional tools, made the event interactive for all. Becker used Slack to host a Polly Poll to find out what the UTO family was most proud for this year. The top response was enabling all Sun Devils to work/learn remotely.

Breakout Room at UTO Holiday Party Warick Pond

UTO family members hosted nine Zoom breakout rooms for attendees to hop from room to room to enjoy nine themes – from Mistletoe Mania + Jolly Jamboree (a concert!) to Yule Log Yoga + Mindful Meditation – there was truly something for everyone to participate and enjoy.

UTO Recipe eBookUTO family members also created a UTO Recipe eBook to share their traditional holiday recipes with their colleagues, like Aunt Ruthie’s Noodle Kugel and Fresh Cranberry Relish.

Togetherness is about more than being in the same room together – the UTO family proves day in and day out that whether they’re virtual or in person, near or far, the strength – and generosity – of this family knows no bounds.


Share this story: