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Doughnuts delivered to the door

Doughnuts delivered to the door
Motorists headed to work receive free doughnuts, courtesy of United Way
By Jeff Bahr
Early Wednesday morning, many Grand Islanders had their trip to work brightened by the arrival of a doughnut.
At five busy intersections around town, representatives of Heartland United Way ran up to vehicles and gave the drivers a fried circle of goodness.
The volunteers used greetings such as “Good morning, have a doughnut” and “I have a doughnut for you. Have a great day.”
Most of the recipients were pleased to accept the gifts. One woman said, “Thanks. You made my morning, hon.”
One man held his hand out the window and accepted a doughnut, barely stopping his vehicle. In another case, a United Way volunteer handed over a box of doughnuts to a woman who was driving a bus.
The doughnut distribution, which ran from 7:15 to 9 a.m., was part of the Heartland United Way’s 2018-19 campaign kickoff.
Before the doughnuts were handed out, a short press conference was held at the Heartland United Way office. That made-for-television event was carried live by a local station.
This year, to kick off the campaign, Heartland United Way wanted to do something a little different.
“Our board of directors said, ‘Let’s do something that’s more action-oriented instead of a sit-down luncheon,’” said Karen Rathke, president of Heartland United Way.
The doughnut distribution also helps create awareness, Rathke said. At the news conference, the campaign chairmen and this year’s financial goal were announced.
“But now we’re going out and we’re using kind of our strength — using community volunteers to go out and brighten people’s days,” Rathke said at about 7 a.m. “Because that’s kind of what we’re all about.”
Volunteers, board members and United Way employees made up the special operations doughnut force, which was equipped with 5,600 doughnuts. About 20 volunteers had spent two and a half hours bagging the doughnuts the night before.
Each doughnut wrapper read, “Donut you want to … volunteer, give, learn more.” The wrapper’s printing also included the Heartland United Way website address and the fact that 100 percent of one’s gift stays local.
Most of the doughnuts came from Hy-Vee, but some were prepared by Super Saver and Walmart. CNH Industrial paid for the purchase of the doughnuts.
Heartland United Way also handed out doughnuts to motorists in 2012.
“We’re very grateful for the generous support that the community has always shown the Heartland United Way,” Rathke said. Each of the agencies funded by United Way appreciates the support.
The financial support, which they know they can rely on, “really helps them,” she said.
“I don’t know that people always understand the impact that each of these programs has in the community and what void would be there if these programs and services weren’t available,” Rathke said.
Making the whole thing work requires everybody doing their part, whether “it’s a dollar a day for the United Way” or a dollar a week, she said.
If you multiply all those donations, you can see there’s a “great magnitude” of potential giving, Rathke said.
The press conference was opened by Mark Moravec, chairman of the Heartland United Way Board of Directors. Moravec, who has lived in Grand Island since 1991, is business development manager for Chief Construction and Development.
The people handing out doughnuts at 13th Street and Webb Road Wednesday morning included Moravec, Jenny Pokorney, Jill Fargo, Beth Lilley, Rathke and Bonnie Westfall.
This year’s campaign chairmen for Hall County are Mike and Michelle Schuster. He works at Schuster Anderson Wealth Advisors. She has been a teacher at Trinity Lutheran and Dodge Elementary. They have three kids: Hannah, 17; Hailey, 15, and Caden, 13.
The other campaign chairmen are Kurt Johnson in Hamilton County, Jill Purvis and Hannah Wegner in Merrick County and Linda Kezeor in Howard County.
For the second year in a row, the Heartland United Way campaign goal is $1.4 million. That goal was surpassed last year. “This year we have a few challenges that we know are going to be there. And so we are trying to be cautiously optimistic with our goal,” Rathke said.