With a pop of colorful confetti, United Way of the Midlands kicked off its fundraising campaign for 2018.

People gathered at the Capitol District in downtown Omaha on Thursday to mark the beginning of the campaign with live music, food and a goal — to put $18 million back into the community.

The event was hosted by 2018 United Way Campaign Chairs Tim and Terri Burke. Tim Burke is the president and CEO of Omaha Public Power District, and Terri Burke is a community volunteer.

“Reach into your pocketbooks,” Tim Burke told the people gathered Thursday. “Reach into your hearts.”

He said a lot of people and businesses are involved, which has led to success in Omaha.

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The Shenanigans play at the kickoff of United Way of the Midlands' 2018 fundraising campaign at the Capitol District on Thursday.

During the United Way fundraising drive at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, employees can participate in silent auctions, go on a color run and enter a cubicle decorating contest.

The activities are a fun way to make employees aware of the ongoing fundraising drive, said Susan Courtney, executive vice president of operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Courtney said employees have made it known that helping their community is important to them.

Personally, Courtney said that in recent years she has been giving more than $10,000 a year to United Way. Her giving started decades ago and has increased as her income has increased. She gives through her employer, which makes it very easy, she said.

“We’re blessed so we can bless others,” Courtney said of her decision to donate.

Courtney said she likes to give to United Way because the organization evaluates programs and focuses dollars on programs that truly make a difference.

“I look at my giving dollars as an investment,” Courtney said.

Those who would like to donate can support the United Way of the Midlands campaign at UnitedWayMidlands.org.

Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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