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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

TurkeyFest In Omaha NE On Thanksgiving 2021

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

TurkeyFest Celebrates 30 Years

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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.”

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Omaha Man Spends Nearly 30 Thanksgivings Giving Back To The Community

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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.”




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 on November 9, Sandy and Gordy were ready to load the SUV and deliver the items that Sandy had purchased this fall. Upon arrival we were met by Lisa and nurse Heidi. While unloading the SUV, Gary came out and visited with us before they took all of the items inside. Gary and Lisa thanked us and the Heartland Council Pioneers for all of the items we delivered.

Submitted by chair Sandy Viner and photos by Gordy Viner

Heartland Council Pioneers Life Member Luncheons Resume


The last pioneer life member luncheon was on December 5, 2019 and they resumed on July 29, 2021. The LML resumed at a new venue the German-American Society and will be held there in the future. The luncheon had 105 pioneer life members attend the luncheon and they enjoyed seeing each other again. In conjunction with LML the pioneers held a food drive for the Salvation Army. President Bob Wolkins collected the food to be delivered after the luncheon to the Salvation Army.

There were three speakers to update the pioneers of important things for them to know about. The New Outlook Region Director Elaine Housley from Columbus, Ohio was the first speaker. She introduced herself and spoke about her work history starting with Western Electric and becoming a director with the pioneers after retirement in 2000.

Vern Larson and Cindy Hadsell with the NRLN followed Elaine. Vern spoke first updating the benefits for those that retired from Avaya. Cindy’s key points were the action alerts and how important they are to let those in congress know what those back home are interested in. Cindy mentioned the voting records of the senators in NE and IA.

You can click on the picture to enlarge the picture and on the right side is a arrow to advance the them.

Submitted by Gordy Viner

Heartland Council Meets New Outlook Region Director Elaine Housley


During our spring conference call president Bob Wolkins made a note about Heartland Council restarting our life member luncheons this coming summer. Elaine called him said she would like to know the date and was going to make arrangements to come out to Omaha and attend the LML.

The LML was set for July 29, 2021. Bob and Elaine discussed that since she would be flying out the day before that the council should have a meeting and supper to meet her and the officers could get to know her.

Bob made a reservation at Brother Sebastian’s for Wednesday evening of July 28, 2021. The officers had a meeting with Elaine before supper and after supper Elaine discussed her back ground and then opened it up to a question and answer session that was very informative. The New Outlook reorganization was the big topic of discussion.

Front Row L to R; Deb Grady, Judy Coffey, Elaine Housley, Virginia Fugger
Middle Row L to R; Gordy Viner, Sandy Viner, Joe Bonaiuto, Ray Fugger
Back Row L to R; Jerry Golmanavich, Betty Golmanavich, Bob Wolkins, Carolyn Wolkins, Steve Dawkins

Submitted by Gordy Viner

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 photos