Our team at the Otsego Community Foundation (OCF) has the very special privilege of working with some of the area’s most generous people, assisting with their local philanthropy. 

“Most people know OCF grants touch many lives. But what is more on the down low is that often those grants start with a donor’s wish,”  said Dana Bensinger, OCF Executive Director. “This generosity is inspired by a variety of triggers, from childhood memories to random acts of kindness.”

For the past three years, our team has worked with a donor who wishes to remain anonymous and use their fund to help spread Christmas cheer.  Working with our nonprofit partners, we choose groups that are facing hardship and are in programs to improve their situation and could use a little love. Often there are safety nets to help with basic needs but not extras like Christmas presents. This donor’s wish has blessed community members of all ages with gifts, such as sweatshirts with school logos to students on the verge of homelessness, music therapy for those in different types of recovery, haircut gift certificates for young moms, etc.

Most of the grants have been awarded to support programs that touch many people. However, last year the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) used a grant to focus on one family who had encountered unexpected medical and financial difficulties. With the donor’s funds, we were able to assist with providing a washer, dryer and sump pump.   

“The ability to assist them with these items is very much appreciated by the family and our staff. This has made a real difference in their lives!” said Jody Schlaufman, director of DHHS.   

Since December of 2018 a total of $15,000 has been awarded from this anonymous fund to help with Christmas. Funds have been granted to the following organizations:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Gaylord Community Schools
  • Giving Tree Food Pantry
  • Help Us Give Back to Servers
  • Johannesburg Lewiston School
  • Karing Home Youth Project
  • Kiwanis Food Baskets
  • New Life Pregnancy Resource Center
  • Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Service
  • Northern Michigan’s Veteran Coalition
  • Patriot Place
  • Refuge
  • Toys for Tots
  • Vanderbilt Area School

This year, the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan has been selected for their client Holiday Family Giving program. WRCNM is able to give families gift card donations that will help them get what they need, wrap the gifts themselves, and then watch with joy as they are opened. This program has the adults feeling empowered to purchase items their families need.

In addition, we are looking for one more organization to help spread Christmas cheer. Do you know of an organization serving Otsego County that could use a $1,000 grant to help spread Christmas cheer?  Please nominate the organization by sending the name and reason to Karin Beyer at karin@otsegofoundation.org by Dec 13th. We will announce the winner on Dec 14th.

Through collaboration with community, managing permanent funds, and making purposeful grants, the OCF magnifies generosity and impact—helping meet critical needs and capitalizing on local opportunities year-round. Ultimately, our efforts help fill forests with trees, minds with knowledge, youth with dreams, workforce with skills, society with art & culture, pantries with food, communities with connections, and hearts with that joyful feeling of making a difference.