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Monthly Archives: November 2020

Heartland Pioneers Continue Thanksgiving Dinner 2020

TurkeyFest Check Presentation

The Heartland Pioneers continued their alliance with the Salvation Army and the Thanksgiving dinner they started with them around thirty some years ago.  In the beginning the pioneer volunteers prepared the dinners at their homes and then delivered everything to the Kroc Center on the night before Thanksgiving.  The pioneer cook, Bill Sucha, then prepared the potatoes and green beans while the volunteers sliced up the turkeys and all was ready to go early on Thanksgiving morning.  The first few years 300 meals were prepared and delivered by volunteers the Salvation Army assembled.  Now the Thanksgiving dinners are delivered to 1500 families in the Omaha Metro.  Other volunteers have taken over a lot of preparation of the meal.  The Heartland Pioneers have continued to supply volunteers over the years and this year the Heartland Pioneer Council presented a check for $1000.00 on November 19, 2020 to purchase turkeys for the Thanksgiving dinner.  The Pioneers plan to continue this Thanksgiving Dinner tradition with the Salvation Army.

Bob Wolkins, president Heartland Pioneers and Debbie Grady, Project Coordinator present check to Major Adams of the Salvation Army

Submitted by Bob Wolkins and Debbie Grady

Pioneering in New Territory: Ways to Volunteer from Home

Home Projects and Break Room/Lunch Room Projects

The following projects can be done in a break room or lunch room to involve members and prospective members for a brief time frame. This could peak their interest to volunteer for another project in the future. It lets our members see Pioneers in action. You will need someone present to track participants for reporting time.

  • PROJECT‐ BOOKS AND LABELS

Pioneer Group purchases Scholastic books to be donated to local schools. Dictionaries may be used as well. Make labels to go inside stating “Donated By (your group) Pioneers”. Give the group website and provide a place for a comment and signature if desired. Ask Volunteers to place the labels in the books, sign the decal and pack the books for delivery. Volunteers may be allowed to take the books to a school of their choice if the Group chooses. Be sure all volunteer time and volunteer names are recorded including delivery time.

  • POCKET FLAGS FOR SOLDIERS

Pioneer Group purchases small American Flags to be given to deploying American Soldiers. Volunteers fold the flags then place them in a small plastic bag with a “thank you” note. After folding, flag will be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It can be carried in the Soldier’s chest pocket. For more information, see www.pocketflagproject.com.

  • FOOD DRIVES AND FOOD BASKETS

Pioneer Group purchase or collect food items to be distributed to Food Banks, Homeless shelters, Schools, etc. Pioneers organize similar items together on a large table. Have volunteers take an empty box or basket and go around the table placing one of each item in the container. Have Volunteers fill all the containers and load them for delivery. Ask Volunteers if they would like to participate in the delivery. Be sure all volunteer time and names are recorded including delivery time.

  • PIONEER THANK YOU KITS

Pioneer Groups print up 4×6 cards with the following: Pioneer Thank You Kit

Rubber Band                      You banded us together

Mints                                   Volunteers are worth a mint

Gum                                    Thanks for sticking with it

Toothpick                             To remind you to pick out the good in others

Pipe Cleaner                       To remind you to be flexible

Safety Pin                           To help you hold it all together

Penny                                  For good luck and prosperity

Rose Petal                          To remind you to stop and smell the roses

Foam Piece                         Thanks for being a “foam‐ible” force

Bead                                    Thanks for “beading” there

Pioneers gather all items and put them in separate bowls. As volunteers gather for a luncheon, they are given a baggie and told to place one of each item along with a card in each baggie.

Once all are seated, thank them for their participation, membership and Answering the Call of Those in Need in their communities.

  • STUFF BACKPACKS WITH SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Pioneer groups purchase or collect school supplies and backpacks. Place all like items together in groups on a large table or tables. Have volunteers take a backpack and place one item of each group in the backpack. Place completed backpack in a container for delivery. Then start with another backpack until all are filled. Ask volunteers to assist in loading the backpacks for delivery. Ask volunteers if any of them would like to assist with the delivery. Track all time and volunteer names including delivery time.

  • HEALTH KITS FOR LOCAL SHELTERS

Pioneer Group purchase or collect toiletry items for distribution to shelters. Arrange like items on a large table or tables. Separate tables should be set up for men and women. Have volunteers take a container (bag, box, or etc.) and go around the table and place one of each item in the container. Place completed container in a delivery box. Then start with another container until completed. Ask volunteers to assist with loading the completed boxes for delivery. Ask volunteers if they would like to assist with delivery to the shelters. Track all time and volunteer names, including delivery time.

  • HOMELESS MATS

Pioneer Group collects used plastic shopping bags. Volunteers work with the bags to first cut them into plastic strips and then knit them into sleeping mats. Numerous instruction videos can be located by searching the internet for “sleeping mats for the homeless”.

  • STUFFING CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS

Pioneer Group purchase or collect items to be placed in Christmas stockings as well as the stockings. Arrange like items on a large table or tables. Ask volunteers to take a stocking and

place one of each item in it. Place completed stocking in a delivery container. Start another stocking until all are completed. Ask volunteers to assist with loading the container for delivery. Ask volunteers if they would like to assist with the delivery. Track all time and volunteer names including delivery time.

  • VALENTINES FOR VETERANS

Volunteers prepare bags with items to be given to Veterans. A Valentine card is signed by the volunteer and placed in each bag. The bags are taken to the veterans hospital or other location and given to the individuals.

  1. PIONEER FOOD PANTRY PROJECT

This project is designed to help feed school age children who rely on school‐sponsored food programs for nourishing meals to get through the summer months. Volunteers are given a bag to fill along with a flyer. See attached example. Volunteers return the filled bag with requested items to the group coordinator. The coordinator arranges for delivery of the bags to the Local food bank or shelter.

Other projects‐

These are projects that might draw out participants that have special interests. A few examples are:

  1. Pioneer Playground Maps‐ Invite employees with children to help paint maps. Each volunteer works with their children.
  2. Help scouts earn badges through pioneer‐funded food donations.
  3. Nursing Home Bingo‐ Invite Pioneers to bring high school and college student s to participate and earn volunteer hours for school credit.
  4. CPR training‐can be set up thru the American Red Cross.
  5. Work with other groups (Letter Carriers Food Drive).
  6. Voter registration
  7. Partnership on projects with the CWA.
  8. Blood Drives held at work locations by working with the American Red Cross.
  9. Work with other employee groups.
  10. Set up cookie stations at work locations to say “thanks” for being a member.

Socials‐

We can’t afford to lose money holding a social but we don’t necessarily have to make money. Keep cost to a minimum.

  1. Life Members‐ Bring members together for an annual reunion. Have a very short program about projects completed and upcoming projects. Ask for volunteers. Invite partners, children and grandchildren of Pioneers to participate.
    1. Regular Members‐ Bring members together for an annual get together. Invite and plan theme around families. Short program about projects completed and upcoming projects. Ask for volunteers. Invite partners and children of pioneers to participate.

Other Thoughts‐

These are items to consider as you plan projects and activities around getting more members involved.

  1. Find out what members are interested in.
  2. Meet them where they are. You have to go to them, they won’t come to you.
  3. Remember, what you think is fun might be old and stodgy to others.
  4. Have projects on Saturdays and finish up by noon if possible.
  5. Design projects around the younger generation.
  6. Encourage Family participation.
  7. Engage upper managers when possible.
  8. Use social media to advertise events.
  9. Always say “thanks for volunteering”.

These are just a few thoughts and we’re sure you have many more ideas. The key factor is to have fun. It brings out new participants and keeps them coming back.

Thanks for all you do in Pioneering.

Hug A Bears and Steve Dawkins – Heartland Pioneers


Steve Dawkins and his wife Marcy took over the Hug A Bear project in late 1999 as co-chairs.  When Marcy passed away Steve took over as chair of the Hug A Bears and continued on.  Steve has carried on for a total of twenty-one year’s producing thousands of Bears.  During this pandemic the group hasn’t been able to meet to make Bears.  At this time Steve has concluded that it is time for him to give up being the chair of the group.  He will continue to help as much as he can as the group moves forward.  The total number of Bears that the group has produced under Steve leadership has been 50,406.  At this time all of us in pioneering wish to say Thank You Steve for your dedication.

HUG A BEARS DELIVERED IN THE OMAHA METRO TO:

PROJECT HARMONY, THEY ALSO WORK ALONG SIDE OF THE BOYSTOWN BEHAVORIAL UNIT.

BERGAN MERCY HOSPITAL AND CHILDRENS GROUP

CHILDRENS HOSPITAL

RAINBOW HOUSE WHICH WORKS ALONG SIDE WITH METHODIST HOSPITAL

CHILDRENS HOSPITAL.

DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPT.

OMAHA POLICE DEPT

FIRE DEPT # 43 AND # 44

BENNINTON FIRE AND RESCUE DEPT

MADONNA BURN CENTER

VILLAGE POINT CHILDRENS CARE

DR. BILL RUCKER FAMILY ENRICHMENT

OPEN DOOR MISSION

SALVATION ARMY

EPS BATTERED WOMEN CENTER

AS OF NOVEMBER 3, 2020, THE GROUP HAS MADE AND DELIVERED 50,406 BEARS SINCE DECEMBER OF 1999.

From all of the officers past and present of the Heartland Pioneers and everyone that has worked with the group making Hug A Bears we say Thank You Steve Dawkins

Posted by the Webmaster from President Bob Wolkins