Small Miracles Make a Big Impact

On Friday afternoons at Lambert Elementary School in Manchester, volunteers from First Presbyterian Church place care packages of healthy, kid-friendly food in the lockers of students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. For many of these kids, school meals may be the only food they eat before heading home to empty cupboards and long, hungry weekends.

“I remember seeing a little second grader just beside herself with excitement because she said she didn’t have any food in her house,” says volunteer Lucia Hutchcroft. “A jar of peanut butter is not necessarily a miracle in many families’ lives, but for some, it is a miracle to have that kind of food show up at your door, especially when you know there’s no money to purchase food.”

The backpack food program—a partnership between First Presbyterian, West Delaware Schools and the Northeast Iowa Food Bank—is getting an extra boost this year thanks to a grant from a generous community member’s donor-advised fund at the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County (FFDC), a CFGD affiliate foundation.

The Small Miracles Endowment Fund was established in 2008 by an anonymous donor to create small miracles for kids. It has since paid out nearly $60,000 to fund little things that can make a huge difference in children’s lives, such as piano lessons, coats and mittens, and toys at Christmas. This year, First Presbyterian will receive funding from the endowment to purchase 676 jars of peanut butter for its food program.

“I think sometimes many of the children feel, ‘Who cares?’” says volunteer Zeta Nieman. “Well, we care, and this anonymous donor certainly cares, and we want these children to know that someone’s there for them. I feel that’s a miracle.”

The Small Miracles Fund is guided by Nancy Preussner, FFDC donor connections coordinator, who advises a volunteer committee that reviews applications and makes annual awards. In 2016, endowments at CFGD and its affiliates granted more than $2.1 million to causes ranging from social welfare to education and the arts.

“The Small Miracles fund is a reminder that our region is full of generous people creating greater good,” says M. J. Smith, CFGD director of affiliate foundations. “Through the power of endowment, our donors are making a real impact for years to come.”

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Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.