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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

The Season of Giving

By Governor Pete Ricketts

December 22, 2015

The Governor’s official photo is available here.

The holidays are a special time of the year for many Nebraskans.  It’s not only a time for us to celebrate the blessings we have enjoyed, but it’s also a season of giving.  During this season, many of you, like myself, draw inspiration and hope from Christmas and the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Whatever tradition you observe, the holidays are a time when many of us selflessly reaffirm our commitment to giving back to our communities. 

One of the great things about Nebraskans is that they are engaged in their communities, their schools, and their churches.  When Nebraskans volunteer they demonstrate the highest spirit of Nebraska.  From Rotary clubs to your local food bank, the work of volunteers is at the heart of civic life in every community across Nebraska.  This generosity and selflessness has a big impact on our state, which ranks in the top ten nationally for volunteerism.  According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteers in our state contributed 61.3 million hours of service activity in 2014 which have a value estimated at $1.4 billion.  Nebraskans are not only generous with their time, but also with their finances.  Last year, over 56% of Nebraskans donated at least $25 to charity.

Earlier this year, I teamed up with ServeNebraska to host the first annual Step Forward Awards to honor some of the most active and dedicated volunteers from across our state.  While we honored many people, I want to highlight one young Nebraskan who stood out.  Randa, from Silver Lake, was awarded the Young Nebraskan Step Forward Award.  She dedicates countless hours of time to the American Red Cross, her local community club, the Salvation Army, and Kids Against Hunger among others.  She is a great example of the countless Nebraskans who put service above self in so many organizations throughout our state.

Nebraska’s veterans are also devoted volunteers.  Many of our servicemen and women who protect our way of life in the line of duty continue their service through volunteerism when they return home.  In November, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer visited Nebraska to help me honor veterans in AmeriCorps and Senior Corps for their service and volunteerism in our state.  Veterans contribute to our communities through a wide variety of services ranging from a student-veteran outreach program at Bellevue University to the Veteran Fire Corps, which engages teams of military veterans in wild land fire mitigations.

The numerous families that foster and adopt each year are another great example of how selfless and giving Nebraskans are.  Foster and adoptive parents in our state provide a caring family for many who have experienced trauma.  Recently, I joined the Department of Health and Human Services to honor the Christensen family for their outstanding work with their adopted daughter Joy.  In January, the Christensens will be awarded the Casey Excellence for Children Award, an award honoring their loving sacrifice for their new daughter.  

Thank you for everything you do to give back to your community throughout the year.  During this season, I encourage you to explore volunteer opportunities and reaffirm your commitment to giving back to your community.  For more information on how to volunteer in your community, visit www.serve.gov.  Additionally, I encourage you to mark your calendar and participate in the upcoming ServeNebraska Week of Service which will take place April 9-16, 2016.

On another note, one of the things the Legislature and I have heard from Nebraskans is that the state needs to do a better job of communicating how much property tax relief we are providing.  Speaker Hadley and I recently announced that the Nebraska Department of Revenue would be mailing a postcard notifying many Nebraska property owners about their Property Tax Credit Relief Fund credit for 2015.  If your property received $50 or more from the Property Tax Credit Relief fund and you have not received the postcard already, you should very shortly. 

The postcard contains information about a tax credit that is applied directly to your property tax bill sent to you by your county.  Be sure to look closely at your tax bill to see how the tax credit impacts your property taxes and how the State of Nebraska is defraying some of your property tax burden.  This postcard does not mean property owners will receive a check or an additional credit on top of what is included in your tax statement.  The amount on the postcard matches the credit included on your property tax statement.  If you have any questions about the postcard when you receive it, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call my office at 402-471-2244.