Columbus Big Give

Columbus Area Future Fund Director Eve Jacobson shows Rena Beran of NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska and Cheri Schrader of the Platte County Historical Society the right way to serve donors during the Columbus Big Give donation drop-off on Friday at Hy-Vee.

Columbus residents on Friday gave thousands of dollars to local nonprofits in the final hours of the Columbus Big Give.

The event, which had previously been a 24-hour event, was expanded to a full week. It began on May 3 and continued through Friday with drop-offs at various local businesses, including Hy-Vee and Supersaver grocery stores. People also donated online at columbusbiggive.org.

“We wanted to focus on the nonprofits in town, on giving, the culture of giving and encouraging people to give to nonprofits that really need our help to continue their work,” said Eve Jacobson, director of the Columbus Area Future Fund and its coordinator for the Big Give.

Jacobson was instrumental in expanding the event in her first year in Columbus. While she said she felt that traffic at Hy-Vee and Supersaver would be slow early on, she also anticipated business picking up by the middle of the afternoon Friday.

“I predicted the morning would be slow because people were getting started with their day,” Jacobson said. “As the day (went) on, I predicted we’d get more donations. I expected it to be a fun day where we can get the message out there about our nonprofits and (hoped) there would be some new donors who have never donated before.”

Several dozen area nonprofits participated in the event, and more than $15,000 had been raised by Friday afternoon. One of those was Sammy’s Superheroes, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Columbus raising money for childhood cancer research. The foundation was set up by the family of Sammy Nahorny, who was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk neuroblastoma — a kind of bone cancer normally found in children under the age of 5 — at age 4.

Sammy spent nearly three years in treatment completing chemotherapy and various clinical trials. His family was alarmed at the lack of investment in childhood cancer research and decided to do something about it.

“They originally had T-shirts to just raise money and awareness and they ended up getting so much support and so many donations, that they ended up starting their own foundation,” said Nathan Karges, treasurer of Sammy’s Superheroes and a Northwestern Mutual financial advisor.

Thus, Sammy’s Superheroes was born. The organization supports initiatives and projects that will help doctors get closer to finding a cure for various kinds of childhood cancers.

“We do everything we can to raise money and find research projects that will help eradicate childhood cancer,” Karges said.

Karges said the Big Give is important for his organization because it provides a good place for the charity to get more exposure and for people to give money to the cause.

“We’ve always done well,” Karges said. “I remember last year we had school kids donate nickels and dimes and change because this was something that was important to kids. This is a big time for us, not only to gain funds for the organization locally, but to get awareness out there and have people see our name and give.”

Jacobson’s job is to emphasize the importance of people giving, helping community organizations and improving the City of Columbus. She said events like the Columbus Big Give help to achieve that goal.

“I wanted to see people think of their vision of what they want for Columbus,” Jacobson said. “I want them to look at this group of organizations and these projects and think about what they want for their community. That’s what I want people to get out of the Big Give.”

Zach Roth is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zach.roth@lee.net

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