Community Chest

Jennifer Woita

WAHOO – Sharing ideas, resources and expertise that allow area leaders to identify a variety of strengths and skills within their community can be called many things.

In Wahoo, it’s called Wahoo Area Community Chest.

“The Wahoo Area Community Chest is a local charity that was formed 48 years ago,” Wahoo Community Chest Treasurer Jennifer Woita said. “All money donated to the Community Chest stays in Wahoo and Saunders County. All funds are run through the Wahoo Community Foundation.”

Woita said that last year donations were nearly doubled from the previous year.

“In 2019 we collected about $60,000 compared to 2018 where we collected $30,000,” she said. “This was one of our lower years.”

According to Woita, the present campaign will run until December 2020 with the goal being to raise $40,000.

“Even though we collected more than our goal last year, we usually keep our goal set at $40,000,” she said. “As you can see from 2018, we don’t always meet our goal.  People were very generous in 2019.  We hope this trend will continue on to this year’s campaign.”

Woita said the campaign goes from January to December.

Woita said the first step in receiving assistance is that an organization must show that they are providing services within Saunders County. 

The following agencies receive a percentage of funding from the Community Chest.

Active Community Team of Saunders County (ACT) is a non-profit developed to address and engage in activities designed to enhance the quality of life of families and individuals in the county through providing education, promoting positive programs, and strengthening/building community resources.

Blue Valley Behavioral Health is a private nonprofit organization that provides outpatient mental health and substance abuse services to 15 rural counties in southeast Nebraska. BVBH has been providing services in Wahoo for over 20 years and treats up to 300 adults and youth every year in the Saunders County area.

Christmas on the Prairie receives funding for their annual event, which brings in approximately 2,000 people to the community.

Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska receives funding for their “Be a Friend First” (BFF) a national initiative that connects volunteers and educators to prevent bullying at Wahoo Middle School. BFF is a unique, same-sex approach to preventing negative behavior among girls at a critical point in their development.

Live Well Go Fish brings senior citizens, youth, veterans, people with disabilities, and hospice care patients out of the confines of daily life to enjoy the freedom, education and therapeutic health benefits of recreational therapy on Lake Wanahoo.

The Salvation Army provides emergency services such as meals, lodging, transportation, medicine and assistance with rent and utilities to local and transient individuals and families as funds allow.

Saunders County Domestic Violence Program helps individuals and families in domestic violence and sexual assault situations. They help victims move out, get supplies, food, or anything they may need.

Saunders County Lost Pets uses funding to continue creating marketing materials and plans for the Wahoo Dog Park.

The Saunders County Ministerial Association exists as a church cooperative in Wahoo and Saunders County. It addresses community needs from a religious dimension. They provide services like baccalaureate service, bible study and worship services in local nursing homes. They also help with utility, rent and other emergency needs for residents of Saunders County.

The Saunders County Senior Coalition is made up of around a dozen businesses and service agencies that actively organize events and provide resources for local senior citizens. This group promotes, encourages and supports seniors to remain healthy and independent.

Saunders County Youth Services provides an opportunity for 26 Saunders County youth to attend a weeklong summer camp at YMCA Camp Kitaki near South Bend. This is an experience offered to county youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity.

Special Religious Ministries provides an inclusive and supportive environment for spiritual training for Region V persons served. In addition, they host a Christmas craft day and provide a birthday cards and gifts for each person served annually.

Three Rivers Public Health Department provides vaccines and car seat check clinics twice a month in Saunders County, as well as working with community partners to offer events and services such as car seat check events, health fairs and bike rodeos.

The Wahoo Area Backpack Program was created in conjunction with the Saunders County Ministerial Food Pantry in 2011. They provide a food supplement backpack on the last day of the school week. This provides supplemental nourishment for the weekend until the children return to school on Monday. This program is completely run by volunteers.

The Wahoo Youth Sports Association was formed for the purpose of providing access to sports for all area youth. Operating with WYSA is Wahoops, Powerhouse Volleyball, Rhino Football and cheerleading, Wahoo Wrestling and the Wahoo Track Club.

The Wahoo Area Bloodmobile provides refreshments for donors following their blood donation.

The Wahoo Chamber of Commerce receives funding for the Fourth of July fireworks display. The Chamber funds and organizes the Wahoo area event at Lake Wahanoo. The Wahoo Community Chest is the main funding source for the fireworks display.

The Wahoo Chapter of TeamMates provides adult mentors to youth ages 8 to 18 in all Wahoo community schools. The program also provides engagement opportunities and training for mentors and mentees regarding important topics youth are facing today such as substance abuse and mental health.

Woita said notices for the 2020 Community Chest campaign were mailed last week.

“If for some reason, you did not receive one, please call the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce at 402-443-4001 and we can get one sent your way,” she said.

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