Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fremont Area United Way’s ability to fundraise in the community has still been able to continue.
“We have not felt massive loss in funds that we’re capable of raising through the pandemic,” Executive Director Christy Fiala said. “And that is because this is an amazing, caring community. There’s just no other way to describe that.”
The United Way is a nonprofit with more than 1,000 offices across the United States. Through fundraising, it has been able to assist communities in need.
During the pandemic, Fiala said the Fremont office has had to change its operations to adjust.
“I’ve done a number of presentations outside, regardless of the weather, just making more videos, I’ve presented over Zoom to folks,” she said. “Those are things that weren’t happening pre-pandemic.”
Contributors to the United Way campaign include WholeStone Farms, Valmont Industries and local banks like First State Bank and Trust, Pinnacle Bank and First National Bank of Omaha.
On Wednesday, WholeStone will present a check to United Way as its campaign comes to an end. Zach Swanson, United Way campaign chair for WholeStone, said the company raised a few thousand more dollars than last year’s $142,000 check.
“I think last year with the flood and everything, we’ve kind of seen an uptick in donations just with knowing that the United Way has been front-and-center with helping people through that situation, and this year being front-and-center in helping people with aid through the COVID pandemic and everything else that’s going on,” he said. “Our community here at work knows that the United Way’s doing a lot of really great things in the community, so that really helps out.”
Compared to years past, Swanson said WholeStone had to take a different approach to fundraising due to the pandemic.
“To try and improve upon a little bit of social distancing and other things, we did it a little more quick, fast-paced,” he said. “And the lobby area had some more fun with it, tried to bring some more energy around the campaign.”
Swanson said he believes that next year could be just as big as well, even without an emergency situation.
“We’ve really focused on some of the things that the United Way has always done in the community too with helping out some of the local agencies and knowing that the money does go back to the community,” he said. “And a lot of people here do know somebody who’s been affected by the United Way, so I think that’ll continue to happen.”
Even with the pandemic, Swanson said United Way had done a fantastic job serving Fremont.
“I think the United Way does a great job here in the community, and we’re happy to be supporting the community and the United Way,” he said.
Other companies like Lincoln Premium Poultry are also looking to start their campaigns. Jessica Kolterman, director of corporate and external affairs, said the company had always intended to start its own and will start as it celebrates its first year in Fremont.
“I think our employees are really excited to have another opportunity to engage with the community, and we’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm and interest in supporting the community through United Way,” she said.
Although she thought fundraising after a flood would be her biggest challenge, Fiala said she was “blown away” by the contributions, and even now during the pandemic.
“Everyone is looking at their situation and saying, ‘What can I contribute? Is that a donation of items? Is that a donation of time? Is that a donation of a dollar or 100? Where am I at in my situation, and what can I do?’” she said. “And that’s just entirely humbling, to watch gifts of all sizes and all types come into the community.”