A Day at the Zoo

In March, flooding swept across Nebraska and Iowa, displacing more than 4,400 people in its wake. Many are still rebuilding their homes, lives and communities, and recovery efforts could continue for years.

“It’s still really hard because you know, of course you go on with your life, but we’re still, we’re still really stuck,” said Julie Flora. Her family was forced to evacuate their home near Pacific Junction in Iowa and hasn’t been able to return since.

Kellogg Company, Boxed and United Way of the Midlands know that, even months later, families like Julie’s need help meeting their basic needs – and that includes having a chance to take a breath, relax and have fun.

That’s why we partnered to put on a free event for families affected by flooding at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

More than 1,000 flood victims received vouchers for free entrance into the zoo on Sunday, November 3rd. In the aquarium, they were able to receive information about available recovery resources and participate in a number of fun activities – including face painting, a photo booth, a “Price is Right” contest held by Boxed, crafts, meet and greets with Kellogg’s characters, presentations with cool zoo animals and more. Employees from the local Kellogg plant were on hand to help distribute goodie bags, oversee activities and pass out snacks.

Eight agencies manned booths where they provided resources to flood victims:

  • Douglas County Long Term Recovery Committee
  • Legal Aid of Nebraska
  • Legal Aid of Iowa
  • Lutheran Family Services
  • Lift Up Sarpy County

  • Mills County Long Term Recovery Committee
  • Salvation Army
  • Saint Vincent de Paul
  • United Way of the Midlands 2-1-1 Helpline

The day also featured remarks from Lt. Governor Mike Foley, who spoke about the devastating impact flooding has had on Nebraska and Iowa and the continuing need to support flood victims.

“I was noticing that in the medium and long term, people are still suffering,” said Ben Schorr, senior manager of philanthropy and social impact for Kellogg Company. “We (Kellogg Company) wanted to do something around the holidays to give joy to these kids and their parents.”

For Julie and her family, the day provided a welcome reminder that the community still stands behind them. “We just really appreciate it,” Flora said.

In addition to Sunday’s event, Boxed and Kellogg Company supported flood victims by providing a way for community members to give back. Throughout October and early November, community members could buy supplies for flood victims online, which were then shipped to United Way of the Midlands and will be distributed to those in need.

The donation website was created “to be a seamless way for people to help people,” said Ravyn Garcia, Vendor Marketing Coordinator for Boxed.

Because hundreds of flood victims still need access to resources that will help them meet their basic needs, Kellogg Company is also generously investing dollars into United Way to fund local basic needs programs.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Kellogg Company, Boxed, our event volunteers and all the nonprofit agencies who attended for making this day possible!

If you were affected by the floods and are in need of assistance, please call our 2-1-1 Helpline! Helpline specialists will connect you with organizations that can provide help and support. You can also text your zip code to 898211.

Check out local media coverage of the event – KMTV, Omaha World-Herald, KETV and WOWT.

About the Author

Brayton is the Manager of Communications at United Way of the Midlands. She spends most of her days writing press releases, letters, brochures and more, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! She loves to travel and is always daydreaming about her next adventure. When she’s at home, you’ll most likely find her hanging out with her family and friends, eating chocolate or reading a good book.


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