Sand in the City, Omaha

by Leslie Suhr

Sand in the City is an annual fundraising event that benefits the Nebraska Children’s Home Society (NCHS), a charity that is dear to our hearts at LEO A DALY Omaha. NCHS is devoted to the safe and loving care of children, and they provide a range of services, including pregnancy and parenting services, adoption, foster care, and early-childhood education.

LEO A DALY’s bond to the children’s home runs deep. Two of our employees have adopted children through NCHS. Every year for the past eight years, our office has made it a priority to participate in their biggest fundraiser, Sand in the City.

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Sand in the City is the perfect fundraiser for a bunch of architects. On a warm day in June, teams gather in a parking lot downtown and build elaborate sculptures using 15 tons of sand. Typically, companies pay a donation to “purchase” a team, and an architect becomes their designer, helping to design and build the sculpture. It’s a wonderful collaboration between designers and non-designers, and a great excuse to skip work and play in the sand.

Architecture firms typically only donate their time, but because of our close bond with NCHS, we have, for the last few years, split a full team with SAC Federal Credit Union—one of our clients. (Omaha is the biggest small town in the world!)

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I got involved in Sand in the City in 2009, right out of college. I was an intern at LEO A DALY, and Sand in the City was my chance to be the designer. This was an opportunity to get my hands dirty (pun completely intended) and have a lot of fun.

The role of the designer is to help brainstorm concepts and themes for the sculpture, prepare “construction documents” for the build, calculate the amount of sand, and the type and amount of forms needed to create the sculpture.

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Over the next few years, I learned more about what NCHS does, and how it’s the only free adoption agency in the country. Sand in the City is their biggest fundraiser, making their free adoption services possible.

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Even later on, I learned that two of my cousins were adopted through NCHS over 15 years ago, and it hit home for me. I have always loved playing in the sand, designing for a good cause, and supporting the great work that NCHS does, but I never thought I had any direct connection to it. Now that it’s personal, it means even more to me.

I’ve made it a big part of my role at LEO A DALY to be involved in our young professionals group, which fund-raises to support our participation in Sand in the City. Every year we have to come up with our half of the team purchase. To fund it, we create and host office-wide activities throughout the year like a competitive change drive and the March Madness Sweet 16 Bracket Challenge. Basically, our participation in Sand in the City is made possible by the employees of the entire Omaha office.

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In previous years, LEO A DALY’s Omaha office covered billable hours for every employee who participated the event. This year, they’re contributing an extra $500 to support the team. I couldn’t be prouder of our sophisticated excuse to play outside, my design teammates, and our firm for their passionate support of this wonderful cause.

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