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Volunteer opportunities Omaha

Omaha Volunteer Opportunities for the 2021 Holiday Season

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Omaha-Area Volunteer Opportunities for the 2021 Holiday Season

As part of our mission to “Smile. Be Kind. Do Good,” we love to share Omaha volunteer opportunities for families throughout the year. And, with giving season in full swing, the team at Hawley Orthodontics has put together another annual installment of the best ways to give back in the Omaha area during the holidays. 

  • United Way of the Midlands – United Way of the Midlands has been serving the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro since 1923. The nonprofit invests in programs that help lift local families out of poverty. This Omaha charity can connect you with non-profit agencies in need of volunteers year-round or you can choose to be a United Way Holiday Helper. Holiday Helper opportunities include adopting a family for Christmas or working in the Christmas Store. You can also pitch in remotely by purchasing items on agency wishlists
  • Siena Francis House – Siena Francis House is the largest shelter in Nebraska and they provide emergency overnight shelter to people experiencing homelessness. They also offer case management outreach services, food and clothing. There are a number of Siena Francis House Omaha volunteer openings, including a need for people to help with meal service, laundry service and transportation service, as well as openings for dock and pantry volunteers. Take a look at all of the Siena Francis House volunteer opportunities and sign-up here
  • Tri-City Food Pantry – The food pantry, which serves families living in the greater Sarpy County area, is one of our favorite Papillion charities. Hosting your own food drive is a great way to get your kids involved in giving back. Contact the organization before starting your drive. You can also contribute by donating much-needed items.
  • Be a Santa to a SeniorHome Instead Senior Care® partners with local organizations to identify senior citizens who won’t receive gifts this holiday season. They then place trees at local businesses with ornaments that have senior citizens’ names and gift suggestions written on them. They’re looking for volunteers to serve as Santas to the seniors. To participate, visit one of these Hy-Vee locations, remove an ornament with a gift request, purchase the gift, and then deliver the unwrapped gift with the ornament to the designated box. 
  • Open Door Mission – If you follow our Papillion orthodontics office on social media, you may have seen our recent food drive to benefit Open Door Mission where, after reaching our goal, Dr. Hawley got pied! Open Door Mission’s goal is to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. The organization provides shelter beds to people experiencing homelessness, as well as preventative resources. The Omaha charity also serves meals to those in need. There are a variety of Open Door Mission Omaha volunteer opportunities for the 2021 holidays. Here are a few:
  • Purchase a gift for the Project Santa program from the organization’s Amazon wishlist. The holiday gifts will be distributed to boys and girls in need so they have something to open on Christmas morning. Or, take part in the Christmas Bells program by buying a holiday gift for an adult in need from Amazon
  • For something that you can do while social distancing, consider one of the organization’s Volunteer in Place opportunities. Volunteers are needed to make inspiration cards, make meals and sack lunches, put together hygiene comfort kits and more. 
  • Open Door Mission has in-person volunteer opportunities too. They need volunteers for their annual Project Santa Toy ‘N’ Joy shop. Or, if you’d rather be an Omaha soup kitchen volunteer, there’s also a need for helpers to serve holiday meals. You can see all of the volunteer openings and sign up here. 
  • The Salvation Army of Omaha – The Salvation Army has a range of holiday volunteer opportunities in the Omaha area. You can be a bell ringer and collect donations, deliver meals, assist in a food pantry, and more. See the full list and details here
  • Heartland Hope Mission – Heartland Hope Mission is in need of resources to meet growing demand. The faith-based nonprofit offers basic necessities and services to help the working poor get back on their feet. You can help by donating funds or non-perishable food items. Heartland Hope Mission also has Omaha volunteer opportunities for people 12 and up in their food pantries and warehouse. Or, participate in their Hope-Filled Christmas program by adopting a family and providing them with Christmas gifts.
  • Heart Ministry Center – Heart Ministry Center provides food, health care and job placement services to people affected by poverty in the Omaha area. The organization offers volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, companies and schools to work together to provide meals to neighbors in need. Volunteers are needed to sort and stock donations, operate drive-through food distribution, make food pantry bags, help with special events and maintain the center and grounds, among other tasks. Get more information or sign-up here. You can also donate directly or drop off items like toiletries, diapers, formula and non-perishable food. 
  • Shine the Light on Hunger – The Omaha Holiday Lights Festival is back for 2021. The Festival, in partnership with Conagra Brands, will be running the annual Shine the Light on Hunger campaign. This year’s goal is to raise the equivalent of 2 million meals to support the hunger relief efforts of the Food Bank for the Heartland. Conagra Brands Foundation will match all campaign funds up to $100,000. To help, you can contribute funds, donate non-perishable food items by dropping them off at one of many Omaha-area locations or volunteer directly with the food bank. 
  • Together Omaha – Together’s mission is to prevent and end hunger and homelessness in Omaha and the surrounding communities. The non-profit organization helps families in need get access to food, shelter, clothing, crisis management and more. Together is looking for volunteers to help with fundraisers and community outreach for special events, as well as in their food pantry. Complete a volunteer application here

These are just some of the ways to give back during the holidays in Omaha and the surrounding area. Whether you take part in one of these suggestions or find a way to give back on your own, we’d love to see you in action! Snap a picture and share it on social with the tag #SmileBeKindDoGood. Let’s make the 2021 holiday season the brightest one yet. And, as always, if in between volunteer stints, achieving a fantastic smile is also on your holiday to-do list, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Hawley.

Happy holidays from the Hawley Orthodontics family to yours!

summer activities for kids in omaha

The Best Affordable & Free Activities for Kids in Omaha for Summer 2021

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It’s that time of year again. The sun’s shining, school is out and the kids have a long stretch of summer days ahead of them. As a Papillion, NE orthodontist and dad, Dr. Hawley knows how exciting and tiring it can be to keep the kids entertained all summer. As always, the Hawley Orthodontics team is here to help with our annual round-up of fun, affordable and free activities for kids in Omaha to enjoy in summer 2021: 


1)  Papillon Days Celebration

Papillon Days is back for 2021 and will run from Thursday, June 17 through Sunday, June 20. Not only is this one of our personal favorite Papillion kids’ activities with days of fun events, it was also recently named one of “America’s Top 10 Small Festivals” by Reader’s Digest!

The theme for the 74th year of the family-friendly celebration is “Honoring Our Journey, Celebration Our Wings.” There will be a carnival, parade, Market in the Park, live entertainment, fireworks, helicopter rides and more! Check out the schedule here.

2) Farmers Markets

There are so many amazing farmers’ markets in Omaha and the surrounding area. Round up the kids and enjoy some fresh air while you stock up on local produce and treats. Some markets even offer online ordering for pick-up. Be sure to check out each market’s COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions before attending. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Papillon Farmers Market – The 2021 Papillion Farmers Market will be held on Wednesdays through September 29 from 5 to 8pm at City Park (Lincoln Street and Washington Street, Papillon, NE). As an added bonus, the Papillion Public Library will be on hand at the market offering a weekly craft for kids!
  • Bellevue Farmers Market – The Bellevue Farmers Market is held rain or shine on Saturdays through September 25 from 8am to noon at Washington Park (20th Street and Franklin Street, Bellevue, NE).
  • Omaha Farmers Market – The Omaha Farmers Market offers the Saturday Market on Saturdays through October 9 from 8am to 12:30pm in the Old Market (1011 Jackson Street, Omaha, NE), the Sunday Aksarben Market on Sundays through October 10 from 9am to 1pm in Parking Lot 26 at Baxter Arena (2425 S. 67th Street, Omaha, NE) and the Night Market at Midtown Crossing in Turner Park (31st Avenue and Farnam Street, Omaha, NE), which is open from 6 to 10pm on Fridays, July 16, July 30, August 13, August 27 and September 10.

3) Free Outdoor Movies

Another of our beloved, free Omaha kids’ activities for summer are outdoor movies. There’s something special about watching a movie under the stars. While the Starlight Movie Series at SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion is yet to be announced for 2021, here are two series that are launching soon:

  • Monday Night Movies at Midtown Crossing – This free Omaha outdoor movie series takes place in Turner Park at Midtown Crossing (3110 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE), giving families plenty of room to spread out and socially distance. The kid-friendly, dog-friendly events will be held on Mondays, June 7 (Mean Girls – PG-13), June 14 (Guardians of the Galaxy – PG-13), June 21 (Raya and the Last Dragon – PG), and June 28 (Jumanji – PG) with the park opening for seating at 5pm and movies starting at dusk. Bring your own blankets and chairs. Concessions will be available for purchase on-site. 
  • Free Friday Movie Nights at Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard – On Fridays from June 11 through August 27, family-friendly movies will play at Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard (19475 225th Street, Council Bluffs, IA). The films start at dusk and refreshments will be available for purchase. Bring your own blankets and chairs. Stay tuned for the schedule and details on Ditmars’ Facebook page. Up first on June 11 will be Grease

4) Gretna Days

Gretna Days 2021 will be held from July 29 through August 1 with all sorts of fun activities for kids, teens and adults in Gretna, NE. Events will include the Gretna Days Carnival, a free fireworks show on July 30, a craft show, a car show, a community picnic, inner tube races, and more! See the full schedule of events here

5) The Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch

The Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch (11001 South 48th Street, Papillon, NE) is a go-to for fun things to do with kids in Omaha. Pick your own fruits and veggies (strawberry season is slated to start in early June, sweet corn season should kick-off around July 4 and red raspberry season will run until the first frost in fall) or send the kids off to the Kids Play areas where admission is just $3. The farm also hosts a number of events, including the Omaha Potter Faire on June 5 and 6 and the Midwest Pirate Fest on August 28 and 29

6) Omaha Area Spraygrounds and Splash Pads

Cool off in one of Omaha’s spraygrounds or splash pads. The spraygrounds in Omaha are open through Labor Day from 9am to 8pm daily. The Papillion splash pads are also open through Labor Day, however, see below for each location’s hours:

  • Benson Park Sprayground -7002 Military Ave., Omaha, NE
  • Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Sprayground – 705 Riverfront Dr., Omaha, NE
  • Fontenelle Sprayground – 4405 Fontenelle Blvd., Omaha, NE
  • Kountze Sprayground – 1920 Pinkney St., Omaha, NE
  • Levi Carter Park Sprayground – 809 Carter Lake Shore Dr., Omaha, NE
  • Miller Sprayground – 2707 Redick Ave., Omaha, NE
  • Morton Park Sprayground – 5724 S. 41st St., Omaha, NE
  • Orchard Park Sprayground – 6502 Hartman Ave., Omaha, NE
  • Upland Sprayground – 3104 Jefferson St., Omaha, NE
  • Seymour Smith Park All Play Park – 6802 Harrison St., Omaha, NE
  • Westwood Heights Sprayground – 12334 Seldin Dr., Omaha, NE
  • Eagle Ridge Splash Pad – Two Blocks East of 66th Street and Ashwood Ave, Papillon, NE (open 10am to 7pm)
  • Schwer Park Splash Pad – 800 West Centennial Rd, Papillon, NE (open noon to 7pm)
  • First Street Plaza Splash Pad – First and Washington St., Papillion, NE (open 9am to 10pm)

7) Free Outdoor Storytime

Looking for a socially-distanced, outdoor storytime in the Omaha area? The local public libraries have you covered. Sump Memorial Library (222 N. Jefferson Street, Papillon, NE) offers a free family storytime for tots ages birth through 5 and their caregivers. The events are held on the library’s lawn, weather permitting, on Wednesdays in June and July from 10 to 10:30am

The Bellevue Public Library will also host interactive, free, outdoor storytimes in Washington Park (20th and Franklin Streets in Olde Towne Bellevue) on Tuesdays and Thursdays through June 29 from 10 to 11am. Registration is required. In case of inclement weather, storytime will be held on Zoom. 

8) Live on the Lake Outdoor Concert Series

Bridge Beats has always been one of the most popular things to do with kids in Omaha during the summer. Unfortunately, the event won’t be held in 2021 because of construction on the riverfront. The good news is, Omaha Parks & Recreation will be putting on a new free concert series called Live on the Lake.

The family-friendly events will take place at Zorinsky Lake (156th and F Streets, Omaha, NE) on Fridays, July 9-30 from 6 to 9pm. Live on the Lake will feature live local Omaha bands, food trucks and giveaways. The line-up includes:

  • July 9 – Lemon Fresh Day
  • July 16 – High Heel
  • July 23 – Stan and the Chain Gang
  • July 30 – Taxi Driver

9) Family Adventure Days at Fontenelle Forest

Fontenelle Forest will be hosting a variety of Family Adventure Days in summer 2021. Engage in a fun activity and then take a guided hike led by a naturalist. Social distancing guidelines will be followed and masks will be required when attendees can’t keep a 6-foot distance. Registration is limited, so sign-up early! The cost is $10 for members ages 8-12; $20 for members ages 13 and up; $15 for non-members ages 8-12; and $25 for non-members ages 13 and up. 

Here are some of the upcoming events:

Can’t make one of the Family Adventure Days? There are plenty of other fun, outdoor activities for kids all summer. Check out the schedule for details. Additionally, in partnership with the 2021 Blue Star Museum Program, Fontenelle Forest is offering all active military and up to five family members free daily admission to the forest through September 6! 

10) Relax at an Omaha Beach

And last, but not least, for our summer 2021 activities for kids in Omaha is spending the day at one of the local beaches. There are lakes and rivers a short drive away, including the Hawley family’s favorite, Louisville Lake. Oh My! Omaha has a comprehensive list of some other family-friendly, sandy beaches near Omaha.

There you have it, 10 ideas for affordable and fun activities to do with kids in Omaha for summer 2021. If you’d like to add getting a healthy, beautiful smile to the list, schedule a complimentary consultation at Hawley Orthodontics for your child or yourself! 

Summer Activities for Kids in Omaha and Papillion

Summer Activities for Kids in Omaha and Papillion in 2021

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We regularly post guides of things to do with kids in Omaha and Papillion throughout the year. While this summer will look different from last year, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the warm weather and family time. To help, the team at Hawley Orthodontics is sharing some super fun summer activities for kids in Omaha this season all with social distancing in mind. Read More


Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween 2020 in Omaha

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We’re celebrating Halloween 2020 style this year! Dr. Nathan Hawley knows firsthand how exciting Halloween is for families and how important it is to celebrate the creativity and inspiration that comes with it. That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite ideas for marking the occasion with fun ways to celebrate Halloween this year. Check our top 10 fun ways to celebrate Halloween in Omaha as a family safely – outside and at home!   Read More

sightseeing in Omaha

Sightseeing in Omaha: Fun Places to Explore

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Since we’re all staying closer to home these days, why not take the opportunity to really explore Omaha? If your kids will be learning virtually, you can even turn the experience into a “class” trip by immersing them in the local history and getting them acquainted with where they live. Unsure of where to start on your Omaha sightseeing adventure? We’ve got you covered. The team here at Hawley Orthodontics is sharing nine Omaha landmarks to add to your itinerary: Read More

#SmileBeKindSupportLocal: Takeout Options for Families from Papillion Restaurants

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As most of you know, our motto here at Hawley Orthodontics is: Smile. Be kind. Do good. One way we can all do that right now is by supporting local businesses that have been hard hit during the recent shutdown. Ordering takeout from local Papillion area restaurants is an excellent and super delicious way to help. Plus, it’s always nice to get a break from cooking. Of course, we can’t mention every single restaurant, so we’d encourage you to check-in with your favorites and place an order, but these are some great local takeout options for families: Read More

facts about smiling for everyone

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Smiling

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The Facts About Smiling

Smiling is a way we connect with other people and express joy. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to smile and spread positivity. You might be surprised to learn all that goes into this seemingly simple facial expression and just how powerful of an act it can be. Considering Dr. Hawley is a Papillion orthodontist, we’re all about smiles here at Hawley Orthodontics and we’re sharing some fun facts about smiling you may not know. Read More

11 Fun Things to Do With Kids at Home 

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Dr. Hawley isn’t just a Papillion orthodontist, he’s also a father of four kiddos. So, he knows firsthand how difficult keeping kids entertained at home can be. While a little boredom is great and studies show it actually encourages creativity in children, it’s not a bad idea to have some activities up your sleeve to get kids excited, engaged and keep them learning. This is truer than ever as schools and businesses close due to the COVID-19 outbreak and we’re all striving to stay positive, while also practicing social distancing. Well, we have you covered with 11 fun things to do with kids at home:

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