Nebraska Celebrates Volunteer Spirit


Half a million Nebraskans work 50 million hours, contributing $900 million to the state, and do it all for free. Nebraska's a national leader in volunteerism, but some think the Cornhusker state can do even better.

This is ServeNebraska week, a special effort to encourage more people to give back in their community, even kids.

"We're painting display table thingies," said Lauren Webb, a student at Grand Island Central Catholic.

Whatever those displays are called, they'll sport a fresh coat of paint this year at the Nebraska State Fair, thanks to students.

Lauren said, "It's fun."

"A lot of fun," her friend, Daryn Willman chimed in.

Like many schools, Central Catholic believes in giving back.

Daryn said, "They talk about service a lot."

"They like to influence us to have a lot of service hours," Lauren added.

And this year, they combined their annual volunteer day with ServeNebraska Week. ServeNebraska is the state's volunteer service commission.

Lisa Willman of Grand Island serves on the commission.

She said, "Nebraska's known for that; we're known for our work ethic, for our volunteerism, and this promotes that."

Though so many Nebraskans volunteer every year, organizers think the state can do even better.

Lisa Willman said, "We are fifth nationwide, which is awesome, but how awesome would it be to third, second, or even first nationwide. This initiative we do this week should help us raise that a little bit, we've had a great response from organizations."

Kids spent the day not only at the fair, but picking rocks and landscaping at St. Mary's Cathedral and sorting food donations at the Hope Harbor shelter.

Some jobs are better than others, like "scraping gum off the underside of pews," Lauren said.

Students are glad to do their part, "so we can help other people out and give back to the community," Daryn Willman said.

Volunteer commissioner, and Central Catholic mom, Lisa Willman thinks it's good to see schools ask students to get involved in the community.

"Hopefully they get it, they know giving back makes our community a better place, makes our state a better place," she said.

The goal is to have Nebraskans volunteer in all 93 counties this week. Visit to sign up to help in your community.