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In an effort to reach its $875,000 goal, Columbus Area United Way officials are preparing to kick off phase two of their “A Changed Life: Made Possible For You” campaign.

The nonprofit organization, which provides resources to improve education, health and financial stability in Platte, Colfax, Boone, Nance, Polk and Butler counties, officially started its 2018 General Business campaign on Wednesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars club, 2720 23rd St.

Throughout the duration of the campaign, more than 200 volunteers will be visiting area businesses to request donations through the end of October.

Executive Director Pat Heimes said proceeds raised will help the organization provide grants to fuel its partner agencies, which include Centro Hispano, Platte County Food Pantry, Big Pals Little Pals and the Center for Survivors, as well as direct programs like Imagination Library, Kindergarten Readiness Camp and Little Free Libraries.

“We work very hard to keep the money where it needs to be,” Heimes said.

Heimes said the organization already reached more than half of its goal from the first phase, coined the the Pacesetter campaign, which was comprised of 13 Pacesetter companies, including Behlen Mfg. Co., Columbus Community Hospital, Columbus Public Schools and Nebraska Public Power District.

Each of these businesses, which were recognized with plaques during the 2018 United Way Campaign Kick-Off event, ran individual campaigns to help raise funds for the nonprofit.

“They literally set the pace of how the campaign was going to go,” Heimes said. “They are great, they really are.”

Joe Steffensmeier, who served as the 2018 Pacesetter chairman, said the total amount raised from the Pacesetter campaign has yet-to-be-determined because some companies are still tallying up their numbers.

Angie Wright, human resources manager at Valmont, said this is the fourth year the company has been a part of the campaign. This year, the company sponsored the Pancake Man as a fundraiser and held an in-house presentation encouraging its 135 employees to donate, as well.

“Our percentage of giving was very good,” said Wright, noting many employees ended up becoming Bridgebuilders, which are individuals who donated $350 or more. “Our company is part of the community and the community supports the employees. If we are not supporting the community through companies like United Way, we are not supporting our own employees and our employees are our most valuable asset.”

The organization's members are already planning to host a Community Celebration to wrap up this year’s campaign on Nov. 27. The time and location will be announced at a later date.

Those wishing to donate to the 2018 United Way General Business campaign are encouraged to visit, or call 402-564-5661 with any inquiries. 

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at

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