League Partnership With Project Everlast and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation Wraps Up 2017, Benefits Young Men and Women Aging Out of Foster Care

A group of 20 Junior League of Omaha (JLO) volunteers got a jump start on the holiday season, participating in a gift-wrapping shift on December 2, 2017.

The JLO Done-in-a-Day Committee partnered with Project Everlast and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation for the event.

With holiday music playing in the background, JLO women took over a space at the Project Everlast Omaha office, spending the morning wrapping presents to be given to young men and women aging out of the foster care system. Staff at Project Everlast had filled the boxes with things like basic kitchen appliances, food, shampoo, hats, gloves and other necessities.

“This holiday season, the gifts that were wrapped by the Junior League went not only to young people in Omaha but were given to youth in Fremont, Lincoln and North Platte, Nebraska,” Schalisha Walker, a Youth Engagement Specialist with Project Everlast said. “It was such a great help that we were able to give, not only to the young people in the Omaha area, but across the state as well. The young people were so excited and happy with the items they received and seeing the joy of them unwrapping gifts is indescribable,” she said.

2017 marked the third year for this partnership between JLO, Project Everlast and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. The shift continues to be a popular impact option for JLO members. The volunteer spots were filled long before the event date.

JLO members said it perfectly combined the opportunity to give back with that of getting into the holiday spirit.

“I love wrapping gifts, so this was a no brainer for me,” Kari Halstenson, a New Member said. “It doesn’t get any better than doing something you enjoy, while helping others out and knowing kids will be receiving something that they can use to keep bettering themselves.”

During the four hour shift, the group wrapped dozens of gifts for Project Everlast. New Member Elizabeth Kraemer appreciated the opportunity to get to know League women during her first year.

“I was hoping it would give me a chance to fine-tune my wrapping skills. And boy did it!” Kraemer said, “More importantly though, as a result of the shift, as cheesy as it is to say, it made me reflect on what the holidays should truly be about. We were wrapping items that I take for granted having and knowing that participants of the program would just be delighted to receive them – that brought home the true meaning of the holidays. And the bonus was getting to interact with and get to know other members of the League, and as a New Member, I’ll take all of those chances that I can get!”

As of February 1, the Done-in-a-Day Committee had facilitated volunteer partnerships with eight metro area organizations in 2017-2018 League year.