How sweet it is: Honey sales benefit those with disabilities

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. Money spent on honey sales in Grand Island goes a long way for people with disabilities.

The 53rd Annual Honey Sunday is the Arc of Central Nebraska's biggest fundraiser of the year, earning more than $2,000 on Sunday, according to an organizer.

"We go out and advocate and fight for the full rights and participation for individuals with disabilities and we try to get full inclusion, which means they're out in the community just as much as anyone who doesn't have a disability," said Chelsea Seim, the Arc's executive director.

"I started out working with Honey Sunday with my mother and sister selling honey back in '62 [or] '63," added Chuck Hoffman, who has been the Honey Sunday chairman for more than 30 years. "What most people realize is Honey Sunday started right here in Grand Island."

He said it grew when the local organization gave the rights to the state, which turned them over to the national Arc.

He said over the years, it's been harder to get sales door to door, so the organization has subsidized the effort with sales at local retailers. Although participation is down, Hoffman added volunteers have sold between 95 percent and 100 percent of the honey ordered for the past few years.

Some of the members and their families from the Arc sold honey outside of local retailers like Shopko, Walmart and Sam's Club, telling their stories of what's possible with help from the Arc.

"It helps me a lot," Steve Durhan said. "I've been doing this Arc thing for 15 years. That's how long I've been doing Special Olympics, too."

"Arc's made a big difference in my life," stated Marty Wheeler. "It gives me something to do. To get out and get in the community to help with things. It gets me out of my apartment so I'm not home so much."

The Arc does offer financial support by offering grants to families.

"It probably helped our family the most when my wife and I started joining Arc," Hoffman said. "We were like many of the other families: didn't know where to go, who to see, who to talk to, what services were available. And, through all the years of working with the Arc we have learned quite a bit. I wish we had known then what we know now. Things would've been much easier with the doctors, school systems and everything."