Robert Coffey

Robert Coffey

December was one of the busiest months of my career at the Blair Area Community Foundation. I literally printed out and mailed hundreds of thank-you letters and tax receipts to donors. Ran out of stationery, ran out of stamps ... but what great problems to have.

That was the result of four terrific giving events happening over the past two months. The Fort Calhoun Splash Pad fundraiser ball, Washington County Gives, Christmas for the Coat and the foundation’s annual grant awards. Their combined statement of giving was nothing short of amazing.

In early November, the Boots and Bling Gala raised $92,000 toward building the county’s first Splash Pad in Fort Calhoun.

Washington County Gives is a single day of giving, sponsored by the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce and the community foundation, for the purpose of highlighting and supporting local charities. This third annual event raised over $67,000.

Christmas for the Coat is a fundraiser breakfast to support Joseph’s Coat and the Washington County Food Pantry. That event raised over $34,000.

Two weeks later the community foundation handed out grant awards to support charitable projects all across the county, totaling $40,000. On top of that, generous donors supplemented those grants with an extra $20,000.

What’s more, employee giving campaigns at Evonik and Corbion broke records, contributing tens of thousands of dollars to local charities these past two months.

All totaled, it comes to nearly $300,000 going to local organizations. And that’s not counting what individuals may have been contributing personally. It’s an amazing amount that reflects the character and generosity of hundreds of people, from children as young as four years of age donating their lemonade stand money (true story) on up to seniors in their 90s.

The scope and variety of those charitable projects assures that virtually every resident of Washington County will experience the impact of that generosity in one way or another. We cannot say thank you enough to those donors.

But the most generous is someone you may never hear of. Louise Pfeiffer passed away early last year. This sweet, reclusive lady lived beyond frugally, yet had a golden heart and deep passion for her community. At the same time all of this giving was going on around us, her estate was settled. And its effect was truly astounding. You see, Louise designated hundreds of thousands of dollars each to go to several local organizations.

I had the great fortune to meet Louise in a healthier, happier time. Her generous spirit was clearly evident then, but she gave no idea what her plans held for her community. Her gifts, with wise purpose and management, will continue to give to Blair, and be felt in the surrounding area for generations to come. May she rest well.

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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