State employees have given $522,000 to the Nebraska State Employees Charitable Giving Campaign, the first time the state campaign has exceeded half a million dollars.
Gov. Dave Heineman highlighted the contributions during a news conference in his office.
A portion of the money given to the Lincoln and Lancaster County United Way goes to the March of Dimes.
Heather Young, the mother of twins born premature, spoke during the news conference, saying that money given to the campaign has had a direct impact on her boys.
“James had a bit of a delay due to his head size, which was a result of the prematurity. But he is now walking. Cole is actually being evaluated tomorrow for language,” Young stated. “It was the March of Dimes special advocate that actually connected us with a lot of the community organizations that we are now using in order to get services for our boys to make sure that they’re caught up by Kindergarten.”
Young held up a four pound bag of sugar during the news conference to illustrate the size of her boys at birth. Their total weight was less than four pounds.
The campaign also support charities such as Make A Wish, which recently paid for a trip to Hawaii for 13-year-old Justice Bennett and her family.
Justice’s mother, Christy Bennett, said that Justice is doing well, but her struggles will never be over. Justice has to sleep with oxygen and has undergone open heart surgery.
“We’ve known for years that heart surgery will be part of her life. So, we just try to take it day by day and just keep living,” Bennett said during the news conference. “We could just have a sick child every single day or we could have a child that is so incredibly special to our family and just enjoy every day with her and we choose to do that.”
United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County Executive Director Brian Wachman noted during the news conference that the state employee contribution is a 17% increase over last year. The state employee charity drive is consistently the biggest contributor to the local United Way campaign, according to Wachman.
Employees have the option of supporting one of 17 local United Way chapters or local partners, giving to one of the 37 non-profit groups registered with the Community Services Fund, or directing their contribution to one the 23 health-related groups affiliated with the Community Health Charities of Nebraska, according to the governor’s office.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman holds news conference on Charitable Giving campaign. [16 min.]