HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — For farmers like Sam and Robin Sanders, it was a gift that made sense.
The Reno County farm couple recently donated a gift of grain to the Cancer Council of Reno County through the Hutchinson Community Foundation.
The concept to give grain in lieu of cash isn't a new one, especially in grain-abundant Kansas. But in January, after learning that local family Mark and Susan Richardson had donated grain through HCF to endow Nickerson's ball park, it spurred a thought.
"Something triggered that we need to do something like that," said Robin Sanders. "Sam's a farmer, and we thought we'd start asking our friends and neighbors to see if they would donate."
Sanders, a member of the Cancer Council board, said the council helps pay bills like mileage, wigs, drugs and other cancer-related expenses for Reno County residents who have cancer.
Now, through the Sanderses' efforts, as well as others, more than $7,000 worth of grain has been funneled into the Cancer Council's account at HCF since February, said Aubrey Abbott Patterson, HCF's president and executive director.
Now Patterson and other community foundation leaders are making the idea an official program - with the gifts of grain concept being promoted for all the foundation's 300 funds.
"We're still getting one or two a week," Patterson said of grain donations for the Cancer Council, noting gifts can be as small as 25 bushels while others are 100 bushels or more.
The foundation has received a gift of livestock in the past, she said, but this year was the first they'd received grain.
In January, the foundation announced its first grain donation from the Richardson family - who had become members of the Legacy Society when they gifted stored grain to establish an endowed fund for enhancements to Richardson Ball Park in Nickerson.
The grain gift allows the city of Nickerson to "forever have funds available for enhancements to the ball park," Patterson said.
Grain gifting also has tax benefits if a certain procedure is followed, Sanders said.
For instance, a gift of grain form should be filled out with the fund at HCF designated as the recipient.
Those delivering the gift of grain must tell the local elevator to transfer ownership of the grain into the account held by the Hutchinson Community Foundation.
Also, because the foundation is now the owner of the grain, the farmer may not instruct the elevator to sell the grain, but instead will give the elevator operator the gift of grain form and ask for it to be sent to the foundation once the grain is sold.
"It is a donation," Sanders said. "It counts as a donation on your taxes and you don't count it as income. It is kind of a win-win."
Sanders said with the new fall planting season approaching and wheat harvest just a few months away, she hopes to see more farmers donating their crops following each harvest.
"We hope to continue this program and this year should be our big start for the program," she said. "Reno County farmers were generous. It was amazing how receptive farmers were ... how willing they were to give."
Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com