Community Rallies Around Volunteer Fire Department, Gifts of Livestock Help the Cause

When his barn caught fire more than 20 years ago, a Garnavillo hog farmer counted on the local fire department to put out the flames. Two decades later, when the department was fundraising for a new building, he wanted to show his gratitude for their actions. The year had been good to him and he found a unique way to turn his available asset — a truckload of hogs — into the capital the fire department needed. 

Gifts of livestock, like gifts of grain, can make a valuable impact on an endowment fund for any cause while providing a tax benefit for the donor. In this case, the Garnavillo Fire Fighters Association was able to utilize this complex gift after creating a project fund with Clayton County Foundation for the Future (CCFF), an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The association set out to raise $572,000 for a building that could house the nine vehicles and two rescue boats they use to protect the 90 square miles of land and river surrounding Garnavillo. 

Rallying around a cause

The Garnavillo Fire Association is made up of anywhere from 25-30 volunteer fire fighters. Members knocked on doors to raise funds and spent long nights on-site tearing down the existing building. Two of those volunteers, fire chief Tony Puelz and assistant chief Wayne Bacon, drove the efforts from the beginning. From measuring rescue vehicles to determine the space their new building would need to attending years of city council meetings, Puelz and Bacon put their hearts into the project. 

“You need people like Wayne and Tony to take the initiative,” said Andy Reimer, CCFF vice chair, who helps lead philanthropic partnerships in the county.

Together with multiple donors who gifted livestock and grain, $340,248 in private donations have been raised to date. Since the building was completed in August of 2016, the association benefits from a safer place to do their duties and a more energy-efficient, cost-effective space. 

“This project brought the community together,” said Reimer. 

Benefit to the donor

In addition to benefitting specific causes, gifts of grain to qualified endowments at the Community Foundation are also eligible for Endow Iowa, a 25% state tax credit on the total value of the gift. 

For more information on make a gift of grain or livestock, contact the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque at 563.588.2700.