As part of Do Good Week, a group of at least 325 volunteers cleaned up the Iowa Western Community College campus, along with surrounding streets and around College View Elementary and New Horizon Presbyterian Church.
And as part of the all-things-philanthropy week, the college also collected donations that will leave their student pantry well-stocked.
“We had started with the intention of doing a campus cleanup, but we had such a great turnout and thought we’d share the love with our neighbors,” said Molly Noon, vice president of institutional advancement at the college.
“We were really impressed, tickled, to get such a great response,” Noon said of the cleanup effort, which included a mix of students, staff and alumni, with students making up a plurality of the group. “Our college family enjoys wonderful support from the communities in which we operate. It’s important that our students give back. It was great to see how many of them were willing to do that, take pride in their institution and be good community partners.”
The efforts at Iowa Western were among the plethora of good done during Do Good Week, held April 19-24. On Tuesday, Share Omaha released results from the inaugural week of giving, which replaces Pottawattamie Gives and Omaha Gives.
In the Council Bluffs-Omaha metro area, Share Omaha reported $2,558,002.50 in donations — including matching gifts — from 17,813 donors. The average donation was $143.60, while 25% were made by new donors.
Local nonprofits raised $384,167.72 in matching dollars, while $37,000 in cash prizes during the week were donated by the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, First National Bank of Omaha and Omaha Steaks.
Iowa Western won a $1,000 cash prize in a random drawing, which Noon said will go toward Rocky’s Emergency Pantry — named after the school mascot, Rocky the Reiver — which provides nonperishable food items, toiletries and basic school supplies. The pantry is open to all students.
“If they’re experiencing any sort of need they can visit the pantry for assistance,” Noon said.
On “New Donor Tuesday,” April 20, the school asked for $5 donations for a school care bag kit for the pantry. Coupled with the $1,000 prize, the pantry will have 300 kits available for the fall semester. Noon expects the to last the pantry two-to-three semesters.
And on “Wishlist Wednesday,” April 21, donors took to the pantry’s Amazon wish list and purchased items that’ll be sent to the pantry.
“It was a great opportunity for us to stock up on necessities. The need has been significantly increased throughout the pandemic,” Noon said. “It’s great for our students.”
In all, 1,874 items valued at $43,800.69 were donated on Wishlist Wednesday, according to Share Omaha.
“We are excited about the results that Do Good Week had for our participating nonprofits. Our mission is a holistic approach to philanthropy and this week provided opportunities for donor exploration, the fulfilment of needed items, volunteerism, and financial support,” Share Omaha Executive Director Marjorie Maas said. “Share Omaha is grateful to everyone who participated and who helped propel this new philanthropic model.”
During a Zoom call about the week held on Tuesday, Maas said it was tough to know what to expect going in, but she was happy with the $2.55 million in donations and noted, “we think the number will grow from there over the years.”
“Do Good Week is our first-time effort to shine a light on community needs in multiple ways. It was an opportunity for us as successor to (Pottawattamie Gives and Omaha Gives) to showcase that philanthropy is cash and more,” she said. “It was a building year and a learning year.”
Maas said the donations were a great part of the week, of course, but she also mentioned training sessions on marketing, fundraising and other issues held with nonprofits, while also highlighting the volunteer turnout.
Share Omaha reported 912 new volunteer applicants, while 1,247 volunteers put in a total of 2,885 hours during the week. Those hours were valued at $78,472 (based on the national average value of $27.20 per hour).
And 1,798 people attended virtual or in-person events during the week.
For the nonprofits Share Omaha serves, “it’s about starting long-lasting relationships ... and creating long-lasting ties,” Maas said.
“It was a big week for us. You may be asking what we learned from all of this. We learned that we set out to do something different than (Pottawattamie Gives and Omaha Gives). This is not an apples to apples comparison,” she said, noting the organization will work with nonprofits to assess how things and see where adaptations are needed.
Noon said the week was a success, and one the Iowa Western community was happy to participate in.
“We had a lot of fun on campus participating,” she said. “And we were really touched by the community support throughout the week.”