Aurora woman wins United Way vehicle

Aurora woman wins United Way vehicle
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Aurora woman wins United Way vehicle

From: The Grand Island Independent

Written by: Jeff Bahr

Afreshman at Aurora High School had a very good night Thursday.

The freshman’s mother, Jill Kottwitz, won a 2022 GMC Terrain in Heartland United Way’s annual “25 Keys of Christmas” contest.

Kottwitz said she was glad to win the vehicle, but her kids will be even happier. “Because they’re going to get my hand-me-down.”

Kottwitz and her husband have two kids. The older one is a college student.

Kottwitz will keep the GMC Terrain for herself. She and her husband will shuffle their other vehicles around.

“My daughter, though, is driving a 1998 Ford Ranger. So she’s getting an upgrade no matter what,” Kottwitz said.

The girl is about to turn 16. “She’s going to be very excited,” her mom said.

Kottwitz works at BonnaVilla in Aurora. “I was actually just telling my boss — I’ve given to United Way every chance I get,” Kottwitz said.

She’s worked at BonnaVilla, where she is drafting manager, for 25 years. Every year, the company has taken part in the United Way campaign. “So I always try to give as much as I can,” she said.

Thursday night was the first time she had a chance to win the car. “So I was just super-excited.”

Before Kottwitz was chosen the winner, the last people standing were Lidia Cabrera, who works at Pump & Pantry, and Russ Anderson of CNH Industrial.

Twenty-four names had been drawn before Thursday’s giveaway.

The 25th finalist — Sue Pirnie — was chosen Thursday night.

Each of those donors picked an ice scraper, to which a number was affixed. Even if they didn’t win, they got to keep the scraper.

The GMC Terrain was the 20th vehicle donated to Heartland United Way by Tom and Kim Dinsdale.

In honor of the anniversary, Karen Rathke of Heartland United Way presented the Dinsdales with a collage, depicting all of the vehicles and their winners.

Rathke said the Dinsdales “are incredibly generous and do so much for so many organizations, causes and communities.”

The ripple effect of their car donation every year helps many people all year long, she said.

Also during the ceremony, Rathke gave an update on the United Way fall campaign. So far, the campaign has brought in $1,322,207, which is 91% of the way toward the goal of $1.5 million.

Go Big Give, done in partnership with the Grand Island Community Foundation, collected a record-setting total of $1,476,970 this year. So the total raised in the four-county area is $2,799,177.

“Thank you all for supporting collective efforts to improve lives and strengthen our communities,” Rathke said.

Master of ceremonies Derek Apfel said he’d called the United Way offices in Hastings and Kearney earlier in the day. The campaign goals of those organizations together, he said, don’t equal Heartland United Way’s goal.

In order to qualify for the car giveaway, people had to contribute at least $260 to Heartland United Way.

Before the winner was chosen, Apfel told the finalists that if they didn’t win a car, Tom Dinsdale will “still sell you a car, and he’ll do it tonight.”

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