Bob Coffey

Bob Coffey (courtesy) 

As development director of the Blair Area Community Foundation, I am privileged to witness acts of generosity that are, well, overwhelming. Sometimes big gifts may be expected, yet still make my jaw drop. Others, often small and unexpected, are even more astounding in their sacrificial nature or their meaningful impact.

The previous two months right here in Washington County has been a display of giving like no other in its history.

Think back to November. We all witnessed the very first Washington County Gives Day. More than $51,000 raised in a single day to benefit dozens of local charitable organizations! But behind the scenes, I learned that kids broke open their piggy banks just so they could be a part of the giving.

At one of the check drop-off locations I visited (a restaurant), a family came in and handed the list of eligible organizations to one of their kids to pick one for a $10 donation. He studied that list over and over, and finally decided on one organization. But before dinner was over, he came back with another $10 donation after convincing his parents that another one was also worthy.

I also learned about a single $18 cash donation, given by a patron of an Arlington restaurant. One of our WCNE Gives committee members pointed out that this one donation enabled the organization Roots to Wings to get into a drawing for a $500 bonus donation, which it won!

Just one week later, Christmas for the Coat generated more than $40,000 for Joseph’s Coat and the Washington County Food Pantry.

One week after that, the Community Foundation handed out $30,000 in grants to help local organizations complete a variety of charitable projects all across the county.

Next, just before Christmas the local Evonik Charitable Giving Campaign raised more than $7,000 for the Community Foundation and other local non-profits.

That same week a local business owner and his wife provided a cash gift that brought financial help, toys and other gifts to two local families in dire need.

Christmas came and went, but the giving kept coming. Of course the big gift we all read about was the multi-million dollar donation of the former Dana campus to Angels Share, Inc., which is repurposing the campus to house numerous service organizations.

By the end of that very same week I witnessed year-end giving to the Community Foundation reach $80,000. And within those donations are stories that would bring tears to your eyes.

It’s clear that as more people become aware of the impact of giving in this community, the more it happens. If giving is contagious, I hope no one discovers a vaccine to cure it. And I hope you catch it.

Robert E. Coffey is Director of Development for the Blair Area Community Foundation, 1646 Washington Street, Blair, NE 68008. He can be reached at 402-426-2810 or

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