Many local, public projects possible because of private support

By Cynthia Scheer – Belleville Telescope News

That’s the word used frequently by local organization spokespeople to describe the donors of Republic County.

Donors have given hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past year to organizations ranging from county-wide foundations to local pre-school and band fundraisers. But there are a lot of organizations in need of money, and not enough money to go around.

Republic County Community Foundation Chairman Tim Gottschalk. said the community foundation receives an average of $186,000 a year with the bulk of the donations coming in at the end of the year. He said about 20 percent of the donations are from an estate or from people who set up the donations before they died. “Most of the rest are from the generous people living in Republic County,” he said. “It never ceases to amaze me … how many people who pledged $5,000 when we started have given their $5,000 and still keep giving more.” The foundation donated money to many communities and causes this year including money for communities’ Christmas lights, library books and shelving for community libraries, and money for building renovation or construction in area towns, among other things.

Since the organization was started in 2007, assets have accumulated to more than $1.3 million, he said. Gottchalk said the foundation is on track to receive $300,000 in matching funds from the Kansas Health Foundation by 2016. Members of the Republic County High School band have raised more than $100,000 during the past year to attend the Thanksgiving Day parade in Chicago. The cost of the trip is about $75,000 while the
band’s half of the cost for new uniforms is more than $23,000. Band members and their parents have raised the money through a variety of fundraisers this year including selling FoodMart coupon books, cleaning the stands at the race track this summer and selling doughnuts, among others.

Donors in the Pike Valley area gave this spring about $22,000 to begin a preschool program in Courtland. Pike Valley Elementary School Principal Mike Gritten said the money, which should fund the program for three years, primarily supports the preschool
teacher’s salary. “We had thought about having the program for a few years, but we wanted to make sure the community was behind it,” he said. “And they were. They came out and raised a lot of money.” Parents of the preschoolers also pay a small fee each month to have their children enrolled in the program, Gritten said.

Area donors also gave big last fall to Republic County Hospital, which raised about $185,000 through the tax credit program to help fund a new digital mammography machine.

Some donations down
Other organizations have raised significant funds this year, although the money is down from previous years. The North Central Kansas Health Care Foundation raised $28,900 at this spring’s radiothon. The total was down from last year’s $33,500, although foundation representative Karrie Holmes said she thought there were a lot of other fundraising events going on at the time. “Our total goes up one year and down the next,” she said of contributions received since the fi rst event in 2000, which raised $64,000. “But there are always a few new [donors] every years.” The organization has raised $320,000 since the first radiothon. Holmes said the money is used to recruit new physicians.
Republic County Historical Society president Nancy Holt said donations to the local historical society are down about 20 percent from last year. “All donations have been down the past three or four years,” she said. “I’ve talked with my friends at the state historical society, and they agree that people just aren’t donating like they used to.” She said the state historical society museum has had fewer visitors this year, and the organization has had no large bequests for several years.

The 38th Cuba Rockaa-Thon in March raised slightly less money than last year, although more than $25,000 was raised this spring for community improvements. Former Cuba Booster Club president Dale Huncovsky said the event raised about $27,000 last year, although he was still pleased with this year’s donations. “The event continues to grow every year,” he said.