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More opportunity to help: Do Good Week replaces Omaha Gives in April

More opportunity to help: Do Good Week replaces Omaha Gives in April

Dennis M. Bender died last week as the result of a medical emergency, Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Chief Joel Sacks said, while working in support of crews battling a large brush fire east of Fort Calhoun in Washington County.

Six days of intense focus on area nonprofits will replace the 24-hour Omaha Gives campaign this spring.

SHARE Omaha will have its first-ever Do Good Week from April 19 through 24.

And if one day for awareness and giving is good, six should be even better, say local nonprofit leaders.

“We are looking forward to multiple days that aren’t necessarily geared toward asking but educating,” said McKenzie Ring, director of marketing for RISE, a fairly new group that helps prison inmates find success after they’re released. “I think that’s a really cool aspect of all this.”

Each day of Do Good Week has a theme:

Mission Monday, giving nonprofits a chance to highlight why they matter.

New Donor Tuesday, an opportunity for agencies to build support.

Wish List Wednesday, urging donors to purchase items at and ship them directly to area nonprofits or to donate goods in person.

Volun-Thursday, a chance for people to learn how their time and talents can help.

Fund It Friday, focused on raising cash.

Celebration Saturday, when nonprofits will virtually share successes, receive prizes and express their gratitude.

SHARE Omaha will track activity through Friday and share updates on its website and through social media.

Nonprofits have come up with a variety of ways to engage the public that week. They also have an abundance of wish list items and a number of volunteer opportunities.

At RISE, for instance, the message that Monday will be the need for widespread empathy.

“Re-entry is crisis all the time,” Ring said. “It takes a whole community to help people re-enter well.”

She plans to post a series of testimonials from RISE participants on social media that day.

She said RISE needs 50 volunteers a month to work with people at seven state correctional facilities (when there’s not a pandemic). They help participants in the group’s six-month program with resumes and cover letters and offer feedback on business plans submitted for a “Shark Tank”-like activity.

Participants and volunteers have been meeting virtually since the coronavirus outbreak began.

The group also needs personal care products for its Re-entry Builder Bags — “all those things that are really expensive when you add them up,” Ring said.

Each person who leaves prison gets a month’s worth of those essentials.

Clarrissa Newman at the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs is collecting hygiene products and bras for women as one focus of Do Good Week.

Through her work as the campus coordinator, she has partnerships with about 45 area agencies that distribute the products.

She’s also the local affiliate director for I Support the Girls, the national group behind the effort to provide those items to women.

The agencies that share the campus — Micah House homeless shelter, Heartland Family Service, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Salvation Army — work together to provide back-to-school backpacks for kids. Items for the packs are on the campus wish list for Do Good Week.

“Last year we helped 763 kids to go back to school,” she said, and included things like earbuds for remote learning and masks and hand-sanitizer for the classroom.

Though OPS students are learning in person, volunteers from Partnership 4 Kids aren’t allowed back yet.

That doesn’t mean they’re not needed. The agency’s programs are continuing to thrive virtually, said Executive Director Deb Denbeck.

Partnership 4 Kids works with 16 schools in the Omaha district and 165 college students, mostly at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Metropolitan Community College.

In one of their programs, Book Buddies, young children build a home library with more than 70 books by the time they’re done. College and career encouragement starts with the older elementary kids and ends when they enter young adulthood.

“It’s really about developing futuristic thinking,” Denbeck said. “We meet them where they are and help them advance their dreams and goals.”

For Do Good Week, the agency is focusing on monetary donations and wish-list entries such as bikes, helmets and soccer balls to give participants who earn prizes.

SHARE Omaha actively promotes 559 nonprofits on its one-stop website. Leaders expect about 350 to strongly engage with Do Good Week, said Marketing and Communications Manager Katie Fourney.

The Omaha Community Foundation’s Omaha Gives one-day funding push ended in 2020 after eight years, but the foundation is supporting SHARE Omaha in its efforts, along with the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation.

If you cover PayPal’s modest fees, 100% of your donation goes to the nonprofits.

SHARE Omaha Executive Director Marjorie Maas said she’s excited about the event.

“The reality is that after last year, many local nonprofits still are struggling to keep up with ongoing increased demand,” she said. “Do Good Week can galvanize the effort to rebuild lives and community.”

Our best Omaha staff photos of March 2021

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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