Go Big Give Annual giving event surpasses $1 million

Go Big Give Annual giving event surpasses $1 million
By Jeff Bahr
jeff.bahr@theindependent.com Jul 7, 2020 Updated Jul 8, 2020 
Late Tuesday night, between 11 p.m. and midnight, Go Big Give hit the million-dollar mark, achieving its seven-figure goal for the second year in a row.
As of this morning, $1,007,671 had been contributed, benefiting 137 nonprofit organizations in Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties.
The figure consists of 5,025 donations.
Last year’s 24-hour giving event brought in $1,069,487.
Editor's note: The article below was written on deadline and is where the event stood at that time.
Even though they were still $400,000 away from hitting their goal, Go Big Give organizers still were optimistic at about 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
The number, which was nearing $600,000, was at about the same point it was last year at that time, said Dori Wanitschke of the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation. Last year’s final number was $1,069,487.
Cammie Benson of Heartland United Way noted that the drive was “right in the middle of our second match minute,” so it was “really going up right now. So we’re feeling pretty good.”
It was the second year in a row that Go Big Give set a $1 million goal.
At 10:56 p.m., Go Big Give had raised $970,042 for 137 nonprofit organizations in Hall, Hamilton, Howard and Merrick counties.
During the evening, Benson, Wanitschke and other individuals were stationed at Go Big Give headquarters in the Harmony Building downtown.
With a few hours to go, Benson said that COVID-19 possibly played a role in donations because people are “being furloughed or having to put money towards other things.”
But at the same time, she said, a lot of nonprofit organizations aren’t able to raise funds and do other activities.
Go Big Give “is a really good way for people to still give to them and hopefully keep their doors open for the year to still do great work,” said Benson, who is director of community engagement for Heartland United Way.
This year’s Go Big Give was moved from May 2 to Tuesday because of the pandemic.
The annual event is organized by the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation and Heartland United Way.
Some of the Go Big Give activities moved online this year.
But some organizations still had an in-person presence.
Cairo had a visible event Tuesday night — Go Big Cruise Night. Starting at 7 p.m., cars paraded through downtown Cairo.
Charity Adams, executive director of the Cairo Community Foundation, described the cruise night as “an awareness evening.” It was designed “just to bring people out, bring people together and celebrate Go Big Give.”
The Vault walk-up window and the Cairo Bowl and Watering Hole were open for refreshments. People who presented a receipt showing that they donated $20 or more to Cairo nonprofits received a free lemonade from the Vault and a food deal from the Cairo Bowl and Watering Hole.
During the day, three Cairo nonprofits were positioned outside the Vault.
“We’re just delighted today,” Adams said. “We have seen some remarkable gifts come in. We really are proud of the fact that people are supporting our community with those gifts.”
In addition to the Cairo Community Foundation, the nonprofits near the Vault were the All Belong to Christ Daycare and Preschool and New Hope Christian School. The Centura Educational Foundation was positioned at the corner of Highways 2 and 11.
The Cairo Community Foundation provides support. “But it’s truly the people in the community that do the work,” Adams said. “We have lots of volunteers that are leading some very big projects.”
Those projects include the community’s veterans memorial, youth summer camps and new bathrooms and possibly showers at the north ballfield. In addition, the tennis courts will be turned into pickleball courts.
The Centura Educational Foundation was raising funds for the renovation of the preschool and community facilities project at Centura School.
The All Belong to Christ Daycare and Preschool served a homemade lasagna dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The New Hope Christian School, which is beyond capacity, is planning a new building. “We’re just outgrowing our school, which is a good problem to have,” said Jenny Reynolds, a New Hope mom and volunteer.
The K-8 school is currently in two buildings. In addition to its main school, Apfel Funeral Home provides space to New Hope Christian.
The $350,000 project will include three new classrooms and a multipurpose room. Before Go Big Give, supporters had raised $247,000. New Hope doesn’t want to go into debt to build the school.
The use of the Apfel Funeral Home space “has been wonderful,” Reynolds said. But school supporters would like “to have our kids in one building,” give them a place to “get away from their desks to eat lunch” and a place to play when it’s cold outside.