Every year, the Clara Barton Hospital Foundation hosts their single largest fundraiser in June. As 2020 began, planning was well underway for the annual event, as usual. The dinner committee picked a theme, designed the logo, decided on the caterer, meal, and decorations… then coronavirus swept the nation. Stay-at-home orders were issued, local businesses had to temporarily close their doors, and for the first time in 30 years the Annual Benefit planning had to be put on hold. To ensure the health and safety of the community, difficult decisions were made to re-evaluate the golf tournament at a later date and cancel the auction portion of the event. After discussing different options with the caterer, the committee was excited to at least have the opportunity to offer dinner through curbside pick-up. Considering the difficult circumstances that many people in this community were facing due to coronavirus, the foundation sparked a campaign encouraging those purchasing a meal ticket in support of Clara Barton Hospital to also ‘Pay-It-Forward’.
‘Pay-It-Forward’ is an expression when the recipient of an act of kindness passes it on, instead of simply accepting it or repaying the original good deed. As the foundation challenged its supporters to ‘Pay-It-Forward’, they were not surprised when the community stepped up in a big way. A total of 333 dinner tickets were sold, with over a third being ‘Pay-It-Forward’ purchases. An outpouring of generosity displayed throughout the community provided dinner tickets to various EMS workers, frontline workers, nurses, farmers, homebound elderly, neighbors, friends, and family members.
“I am thrilled that the community had such a great response in supporting our ‘Pay-It-Forward’ idea,” said Melissa Scheck, Chair of the Annual Benefit Dinner Committee. “We have so many great people in this community and I’m not surprised we had such a wonderful turnout. It’s nice to know that there is still a lot of love within our community, even during times like these.” The owner of Freedom Claims Management, Inc., Julie Yarmer, paid-it-forward in monumental way, purchasing 100 tickets to gift to Hoisington EMS, frontline workers at Clara Barton Hospital, as well as her staff, family and harvest crew.
“We have so much to be thankful for, even in these trying times, so I wanted to show my appreciation to some of the frontline workers risking their lives to keep us all safe,” said Yarmer. “I feel truly blessed to have my ‘family’ at the office helping me support our community, and I have always said if you put God first, and family second, then everything else will fall into place. I wanted to take this opportunity to pay-it-forward in hopes that I could make someone’s day, warm their heart, or even just make them smile.”
In the true “Pay-It-Forward” spirit, one act of kindness sparked a continuous chain of giving. Some individuals that were gifted meal tickets paid it forward again by purchasing additional tickets for neighbors, friends and family members, which in turn inspired some recipients to make donations to the foundation. One individual that was gifted a ticket made a contribution to the foundation and their employer, a local business, matched that donation.
Another local business focused on recognizing the homebound elderly within the community. Patty Horton, Senior Vice President of First Kansas Bank, and her staff purchased and delivered 10 meals to individuals that have difficulty leaving their residence.
“Several of us know some of these elderly individuals and we wanted to recognize them for their past volunteer work and service in a special and meaningful way,” said Horton. “They were very surprised to receive a catered meal and couldn’t believe someone had actually thought of them. We received appreciative phone calls, cards, and some even tried to offer to pay for their meal. It was so rewarding to see what a small act of kindness meant to them.”
Offering the meals for curbside pick-up and not having the number of dinner tickets limited to the Knights of Columbus Hall allowed for additional ticket sales and participation this year. There were a multitude of new faces that took part in the festivities and made donations. The community rallied not only in support of the foundation but in support of everyone that has, and continues to work hard, maintaining the health and safety of the community. If you would like to learn more about how you can support the Clara Barton Hospital Foundation, contact the Director of the Foundation at 620-653-5012 or to make a donation, visit www.clarabartonhospital.com/donate.