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Category: Chapter 137 News

Hug A Bear Volunteer Group To Carry On

In the early months of 2021 when Covid-19 broke out the Hug A Bear group could no longer meet to make the Bears at Maple Ridge Retirement Center. Then in mid April they informed the Heartland Pioneers that after a decade of making Bear in their lower level they were told that they had to vacate by the end of April.

The volunteer group had no place to go and started a search for a new location. The group decided to put everything connected with making of the Bears in storage for the time being. In September as things opened up a home still hadn’t been found. At that time those that still making Bears with the group decided to make Bears in their homes working on them individually. If was found that there were somewhere between 200 to 300 Bears in different stages and they would finish these up before starting any more Bears.

Covid-19 and variants have made it very hard at this time to secure a place to make the Bears and store everything used to make the Bears. The group has decided to keep making Hug A Bears by making them in their homes in the different steps. 3-M in Valley, NE that donates the fluff we use to stuff the Bears is considering partnering with us in some matter making the Bears. We hope that this inquiry works out for both of us.

In December the group had around 80 plus Hug A Bears finished and Judy Coffey told the group that she would find homes for the finished Bears. The week before Christmas Judy connected with the Women’s Center For Advancement and delivered 20 Hug A Bears. After Christmas she connected with Project Harmony and gave them 20 Bears. On January 3 Judy stopped in at the Boys Town National Research Hospital. Judy connected with Gloria at Boys Town and gave her 20 Bears. All three organization told Judy that when the Heartland Pioneers have more Bears made they would gladly accept more Bears for the children.

Women’s Center For Advancement
The WCA assists anyone in the Omaha area who is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. The WCA is Omaha’s designated domestic violence help center. They serve the critical needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Omaha, Nebraska.

Project Harnony
Together, we can end child abuse. Every child deserves to grow up safe, happy and healthy. We’re boldly focused on ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect in our community.

Boys Town Nation Research Hospital
Boys Town National Research Hospital is a clinical and research hospital that focuses on childhood deafness, language, and communication


Submitted by Judy Coffey, Jerry Golmanavich and Bob Wolkins

Cozy Wraps Delivery The Day Before Christmas


On the afternoon of December 23 a couple of ladies in the Cozy Wrap group dropped off some items they had knitted and Carolyn put them with what she had finished and Bob and her planned one last delivery to the Lydia House at the Open Door Mission on the morning of December 24. Lydia House is a shelter for women and a part of the Open Door Mission. Carolyn said that they delivered 29 handmade items to Lydia House consisting of baby items, scarfs, headbands and a 14 baby blankets. Kristin accepted the donations and told Carolyn that the items were very much in need.

Submitted by Carolyn Wolkins – Pictures by Bob Wolkins

Care Bears Lincoln, NE Pioneer Volunteers

In 2019 Helen Loyd and Sherry Lynn Riddle moved to Lincoln, NE and continued their pioneer volunteer work. They started to make tote like bags, hug bears and blankets in their home. They connected with the Lincoln Police Department to distribute the items they were making for those in need. Their in house connection at the police department was Dawn Moore. Dawn is the office specialist that collects and helps distribute the items to those in need. Helen and Sherry Lynn had Dawn over to their home to show her the work that they have finished this year for her to distribute. Helen and Sherry Lynn made 98 hug bears, 103 tote bags and 4 blankets.

Submitted by Sherry Lynn Riddle

Heartland Council Pioneers Life Member Luncheon 12/7/2021

Omaha Works Pioneer Christmas Life Member Luncheon December 7, 2021

On December 7 the Heartland Council sponsored a Life Member Luncheon for all the retirees of the Omaha Works, 1956 – 2011. There was also a food drive in connection with the luncheon. Chapter president Bob Wolkins left to deliver the donated food to the Salvation Army when the luncheon was over.

The LML had over 112 retirees attending the luncheon. They enjoyed the comradery with old friends from work and voted after the meal to keep the luncheon at Anthony’s in 2022.

This year we were able to get a number of surplus promotional items from Pioneer headquarters. Judy wrapped the items and held a grab bag and everyone got a surprise gift.

Photos of the Heartland Council LML guests are posted on the pioneer website soon at www.heartlandpioneers.com. On on the home page click the NEWS to view them.

Heartland Councils Christmas Luncheon 12/7/2021

Submitted by New Outlook West Ch. 161 President Bob Wolkins

TurkeyFest In Omaha NE On Thanksgiving 2021

TurkeyFest delivers record 1,562 Thanksgiving meals to those in need


TurkeyFest Celebrates 30 Years

Click on this link to view the video

TurkeyFest Celebrates 30 Years
Nov 24, 2021

Volunteer Deb Grady will arrive at the Kroc Center by 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning – something she’s been doing every Thanksgiving for more than two decades. Grady coordinates 20 or so volunteers from Heartland Pioneers, many of whom worked for Western Electric, AT&T and CommScope and have been helping to prepare Thanksgiving meals for TurkeyFest since its inception in 1991.

Originally called the Telephone Pioneers of America, the group focused on a variety of community service projects. In the early days of their partnership with The Salvation Army, Telephone Pioneers volunteers cooked the turkeys in their own home kitchens and then delivered them to The Salvation Army on Thursday morning to be delivered to older adults later that day.

In 1991, TurkeyFest volunteers delivered 40 meals. This year The Salvation Army anticipates that 1,200 Thanksgiving dinners will be distributed to older adults in Omaha.

“I love the camaraderie, everyone doing their part and in tune with one another,” said Grady, who prepares Thanksgiving dinner for her own family on Wednesday so she is free to help out at TurkeyFest on Thanksgiving morning. “And we have fun! We enjoy ourselves back there in the kitchen.”

Grady retired in 2011 from Connectivity Solutions Manufacturing, a former division of CommScope, where she worked in the print shop. But she has stayed in touch with many of her colleagues through TurkeyFest.

“It’s a nice opportunity to see people that we don’t ordinarily connect with except at this time of the year,” she said.

Grady doesn’t have plans to step down from her TurkeyFest duties anytime soon. “I’ve made mashed potatoes for TurkeyFest for more years than I can count,” she said. “It’s just part of my Thanksgiving tradition.”

Omaha Man Spends Nearly 30 Thanksgivings Giving Back To The Community

Click on this link to view the video

By Ashly Richardson
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 1:53 PM CST|Updated: 20 hours ago
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Thanksgiving is a day Doug Thoms holds near to his heart.


For three decades he has been volunteering for the Salvation Army’s Turkey Fest.

“I’ve been involved in turkey fest in one way or another from washing dishes to cutting turkeys, from washing the peas or string beans doing the mash potatoes. Just about anything they need me to do, I do,” said Thoms.

Doug is part of a much larger tradition. It started 30 years ago with workers from the Western Electric phone company.

The group is called the pioneers and Doug is one of the many that continues to carry on the tradition even after the company closed its doors in Omaha.

“It closed about 10 years ago so the volunteers are still going on and doing what we’ve always done. We won’t let stop us,” said Thoms.

Today they are helping to dish out nearly 1,200 meals to those in need. The process works like an assembly line and once it’s boxed up, it gets delivered.

“It will go all over to individual residences that can’t get out. So the people that are in wheelchairs or shut-ins, that are sick or whatever reason. That’s one of the criteria so it’s delivered to house and nursing homes,” said Kevin Newlin, Turkey Fest Chef.

The Salvation Army says the need has grown this year because of the pandemic. And with more people needing a warm meal this holiday, Doug says it’s as important as ever to give back to the community.

“I always say that it takes a village and it does take a village. We look at this as not an I, I situation but a we situation. We need to get out and help people that are less fortunate than us.”


Pictures and stories by the Salvation Army and WOWT – All the volunteers thank them – 2021

Josie Harper Hospice House November 9, 2021

The pandemic continued on into 2021 and the needs at Josie Harper Hospice House remained about the same for the year as last. In early September Sandy Viner (chair) began shopping for the needs this fall. The needs continued to be body lotions, shampoos, body wash, baby powder, shaving cream, combs and tooth brushes. Gary the executive director and Lisa the development director asked if it would be possible to add non-ticking wall clocks for the rooms to the list and Sandy told them to let her know how many they needed.

On this bright sunny afternoon of November 9 Sandy and Gordy were ready to load the SUV and deliver the items that Sandy had purchased this fall. Upon arrivial we were met by Maggie and nurse Heidi. While unload the SUV Gary the director came out and visited with us before they took all of the items inside. Gary and Maggie thanked us and the Heartland Council Pioneers for all of the items we delivered.

Submitted by chair Sandy Viner photos by Gordy Viner

Cozy Wraps Fall Delivers November 1, 2021

At the end of October it was time for the Cozy Wrap group to deliver the items that they had assembled this fall. Bob and Carolyn’s first stop was at the Open Door Mission. They had lap robs, stocking hats and scarves. From there they headed over to Council Bluffs, IA to the Risen Sun Christian Village with a large number of lap robs. The administrators thanked them both for the items and told them that the items will be handy this winter.

The last photo is of the the items made by the satellite Cozy Wrap group of Granby. Everything assembled on the table was made for the Operation Christmas Child for the Christmas program at Samaritans Purse. They were very thankful to the Cozy Wrap group for their help this year.

Submitted by Chair Carolyn Wolkins and photographer Bob Wolkins

Heartland Pioneers Helping Those In Need Beat The Heat

Salvation Army Annual Fan Drive

You probably have a way to stay cool this summer but not everyone does.

That’s why the Salvation Army is kicking off its annual fan drive this year with Ace Hardware from June 3 to June 20, 2021. Because of COVID-19, the organization is asking for monetary donations, which will allow them to buy new fans for those in need. This year you can donate to the drive at all ACE Hardware locations in the Omaha Area.

The Heartland Council Pioneers of Omaha, NE purchased 60 box fans for the needy and elderly in the Omaha area. Bob Wolkins volunteered his pickup truck and the pioneers sent out a call for more help to pick up the fans at the Ace Westlake Hardware store and deliver them to the Salvation Army.

On Friday afternoon Heartland Council Pioneers President Bob Wolkins came with his truck, Joe,1st Vice President showed up with his cargo van, Steve, 2nd Vice President showed up with his cargo van and Jerry, past president showed up with his cargo van. After loading Bob’s truck Mike, the store manager said, “Hey guys let me help you out here. Let me deliver the rest of the fans to the Salvation Army up on NW Radio Highway for you.” It was over 90 degrees out and getting hotter and all said that is a great idea Mike and thank you.

Last picture L to R; Jerry Golmanavich, Bob Wolkins, Joe Bonaiuto and Steve Dawkins

Last Frame; These fans are being donated this year by the Heartland Council Pioneers in honor of Dick “Max” and Cathy Maxwell. They volunteered for the Heartland Pioneers for over thirty years with the Salvation Army. Dick “Max” Maxwell passed this last fall from covid-19.

Submitted by Gordy Viner Treasurer and also the photos

The Cozy Wrap Group Make a Spring Deliver to the Open Door Mission

On Wednesday afternoon, May 5, a couple of ladies Dixie and Sharon that are knitting with the Cozy Wrap Group dropped off some items that they had knitted to add to what Carolyn had been working on. Then on Thursday afternoon her and Bob loaded the SUV to deliver the items to the Open Door Mission.

On the way up to the ODM Carolyn gave them a call and Kristin answered the phone. Carolyn told here that they were be there shortly to deliver 22 baby blankets,1 cocoon and 4 baby hats this morning. Kristin said that she would accept the itema on behalf of Lydia House.

Kristin met them in the parking to accept the items and to thank Carolyn and the Cozy Wrap Group for the items. She said that the items were always needed at the Lydia House.

A few days after Bob and Carolyn make a trip to deliver some knitted items to the Open Door Mission Trina delivered 12 blankets in 4 boxes. Later on that day Pat delivered 11 blankets, 9 cocoons and 15 hats. Trina and Pat have been making a lot of items for the needy and Carolyn has been donating the items to Lyndia House at the Open Door Mission. When they arrived at the ODM the receptionist Nancy accepted the items and Bob took a picture of Nancy giving Carolyn a receipt.

After making the delivery of the finished items to Linda House (Open Door Mission) Carolyn and Bob returned to Michele’s in Papillion and purchased more yarn to distribute to the ladies in the Cozy Wrap Group.


Submitted by Carolyn and Bob

Heartland Council To Resume Life Member Luncheons

Life Member Luncheon are Back

The Pioneers Life Member Luncheons are back. We have a NEW location (German-American Society) NEW menu and a great PRICE. If you haven’t been for awhile now is a good time to come and visit with friends from work. We hope to see you July 29, 2021. The officers of the Heartland Council


Submitted by LML Chair Judy Coffey