Neil Kirby, President of the Elkhorn branch of Commercial State Bank, is an avid volunteer at the Siena/Francis House. "Terri and I have been volunteering there for probably 20 years. It started through our church, serving meals. We used to take the kids down there when they were little and they'd help serve trays of food", Neil says. Now he and his wife Terri volunteer their time once a month on average; Neil collecting and distributing clothing and Terri using her nursing career to assist in health screenings for those in need.
This December with cold weather approaching, Neil gave himself a goal. He set out to raise funds so that he could purchase items the Siena/Francis house desperately needed this time of year: Warm sweatshirts! With generous donations from friends and family in the Elkhorn community, he was able to raise $500.00 towards his goal. Neil was grateful for the outstanding support, but knew he would need to make that money stretch in order to keep up with the demands. The Siena/Francis house has served more than 3,000 of the Omaha area's homeless population in 2017* and Neil knew from experience that December's cold weather can be particularly hard on those in need. That is where Midwest Impressions of Elkhorn came to his mind, and Neil made a call to owner Eric Balch.
Eric has been a helping hand to Neil's volunteer efforts on more than one occassion. Earlier this summer, Eric had donated several boxes worth of shirts that had been discontinued and could've otherwise been thrown away. Combined with the earlier donation and a great price on hooded sweatshirts, Midwest Impressions has been responsible for over $2000 worth of clothing Neil has handed out at the homeless shelter. Over 50 sweatshirts were handed out Wednesday night, where the windchill had the temperature at a brisk 5 degrees. Midwest Impressions facebook page stated "It warmed our hearts to know we were warming new friends".
Neil says his hours spent volunteering are all worth it when you hear a sincere "Thank you" and "God Bless You". "People may come in looking for something and you feel so bad when you can't find it for them or don't have what they need. A guy came in looking for a sweatshirt and we weren't sure we had one in his size. He had walked out in to the hallway expecting we wouldn't have anything for him, and when I found the shirt in his size I ran out after him. I started yelling down the hallway that I'd found one and the look on his face... that's why you do it, you know, they're just so appreciative".
Neil's message to everyone this holiday season is to be humble, thankful, and to give back when you can.
"You don't realize how much you're blessed with until you do something like this, it really makes you appreciate all that you have".
*Source: www.Siena/Francis.org; Numbers as of October 31, 2017.