After March floods swept through northeast Nebraska, damaging homes and displacing families, residents in the Fremont area came together to help each other recover.
And on Tuesday, during the Fremont Area Big Give, residents in the area sought to come together again.
The slogan for this year’s Fremont Area Big Give, an area-wide promotion for local nonprofits, was “we pulled together, now let’s give together.” And according to Fremont Area Community Foundation Executive Director Melissa Diers, the community did just that on Tuesday.
“The one key thing that makes this year different is that this event is arriving on the heels of a major flood event for greater Dodge County,” Diers said. “So we wanted to be sure to be mindful of the efforts that are still underway but also to give pause to all of the efforts of all of the nonprofits that are an important part of the community, and celebrate the Fremont area.”
The Fremont Area Big Give, now in its third year, invites community members to donate to their favorite nonprofits in a 24-hour drive. Throughout the day, nonprofits hosted events to bring community residents out and to showcase their work. A ticker showing the total number of donations and a leaderboard featuring the progress of all of the nonprofits was on display at www.fremontareabiggive.org.
This year’s event featured 60 different nonprofits based in Fremont and the surrounding communities. Donations were set to come in from midnight to midnight, and as of 6 p.m. ahead of the Tribune’s press time, the amount raised totaled $255,110, amassed from 1,487 donations.
That put it below last year’s number of $355,022 with seven hours left to go.
Diers said that last year’s event had gotten off to a quicker start because there had been a scheduled donation of $75,000 to the Scribner Area Community Foundation to help the Scribner community build its new fire department. That payment was processed as soon as the event started.
“That definitely boosted the numbers right from the get go last year,” she said.
Other than that, “It has been very similar to what we’ve done in years past,” Diers said.
“All around, we’re just pleased to see everybody joining together again today to celebrate our community and all the nonprofits that make our community so great.”
By 6 p.m., Lutheran Family Services topped the leaderboard in terms of the total amount raised with more than $40,000. The Fremont Public Schools Foundation was in front in terms of number of unique donations with 198.
Throughout the community, nonprofits held events to raise awareness of their work and to invite residents to come celebrate the day with them.
Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools held an all-school rosary, which was opened to the public on Tuesday morning, while the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration held an educational event throughout the day to help those providing caregiving services to individuals with Alzheimer’s -- both for professionals and for families.
Meanwhile, outside the Fremont Area Habitat for Humanity’s office on Dodge Street just before noon, there was a smell of tacos in the air, courtesy of a Taco’s Villasenor taco truck. The truck had just served a group of firefighters, and more than a dozen had come out in the truck’s first hour despite the overcast weather.
“We wanted people to stop by and see us and everybody loves a taco truck,” said Habitat Executive Director Joy McKay.
The organization uses volunteer labor and donations to build affordable housing for families in need. Donors during the Big Give could get a coupon for 15 percent off in the organization’s homestore, which sells furniture and other home goods.
At that point in the day, Habitat had raised around $4,000 with a goal of reaching $10,000, said Executive Director Joy McKay.
“Each year, we’ve done more than the previous year,” McKay said. “I think it’s just a day to emphasize giving, whether it’s to Habitat or whatever organization -- I think it’s a fun event.”
The rainy weather did force some changes throughout the day. The Fremont Avenue of Flags was supposed to be hosting a Big Give Celebration at the Veterans Park, but that was cancelled due to rain in the forecast.
“This is the first year we’ve really struggled with weather and it could have been worse,” Diers said.
Over at LifeHouse, the weather forced the organization’s “Grillin’ and Chillin’” event, which featured hot dogs and other food, indoors. But that hadn’t stopped a steady flow of donations from going to the organization, according to Julie Sleister, director of development and public relations.
LifeHouse -- an organization that provides emergency shelter, food and more to those struggling with homelessness or poverty -- set a goal to raise $25,000. By noon, the organization had raised nearly half of that.
“It’s just a great way for the community all to come together and get to know the nonprofits in town -- who they are and what they’re doing,” Sleister said. “While we all have our own specific missions, we’re all working together for the benefit of the community.”
And by having one day to celebrate all those nonprofits, Diers said, those organizations are able to amplify their message.
“A community’s not healthy and viable without a good strong network of nonprofit organizations,” Diers said. “They work together to enhance quality of life for the residents of our greater Fremont area, and they serve a vital need for a number of families that live in our community, so being able to showcase them and shine a spotlight on the work that they do during one single day of the year I think really highlights that fact.”