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My feisty little grandmother was a great fundraiser

By: Keith Kappes
Columnist
Carter County Times

I’ve been a fund raiser for nearly 50 years but the best fundraising idea came from my dear late grandmother, Minnie, who lived to be 100.

Her simple yet brilliant idea was tied to her birthday and the fact that – to the amazement and admiration of all who knew her – she enjoyed an active, fully engaged life for 43 years after losing her husband.

This feisty old gal lived on a modest pension check, income from a rented duplex apartment and small monthly contributions her children made to the “Minnie Fund” which supplemented her income.

I lived with her during my first three years of college and I remember exactly how she came up with a unique way of paying her real estate taxes.

The tax bill arrived each year about the end of August and it amounted to a few hundred dollars. But, according to Minnie, it was so much that paying it likely would put her in the poorhouse.

Keep in mind that her birthday was in May so the small contributions toward her tax bill in the fall could be considered an early or late birthday present.

Thus, was born what some of us privately called “Minnie’s Tax Party”. She liked to tell folks that requesting cash instead of birthday presents she didn’t need made more sense than opening a lot of presents filled with “expensive junk”.

The word spread quickly and the party became an annual event which always achieved (and exceeded) its dollar goal of whatever the sheriff insisted Minnie should pay that year in property taxes.

I vividly recall my aunts and uncles and other relatives showing up at her front door with cash-bearing envelopes in their hands, sort of like a Mafia wedding reception.

Most of them winked and said it was Minnie’s birthday present. I smiled and nodded as they dropped the envelopes into the basket I was holding at the door. Frankly, I was amused that no one ever raised the question of her real birthdate. 

But now I realize it was because we all loved her so much it never really mattered. 

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com

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