Generosity and humility are a big part of Tom and Rhonda Peed’s make-up, according to organizations that have benefited from their charitable giving.
The husband-wife team has invested in the Lincoln community since 1985, when they moved their small publishing business from Webster City, Iowa.
“The bulk of what we’ve done is children-based, making a better environment for kids,” Tom said.
The couple’s community stewardship has grown along with their business ventures, which now include three companies headed up by their three sons. Oldest son Shawn is at the helm of Sandhills Publishing, second-born Shane heads up Certified Piedmontese Beef and Lone Creek Cattle Company, and youngest son Zach oversees Dormie Network, a national network of six destination golf clubs.
“Since the beginning, Sandhills has placed a high value on community outreach and stewardship, hosting charity events and teaming up with community organizations such as the YMCA of Lincoln, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and the Lincoln Community Playhouse,” the Sandhills Publishing website states. The company also sponsors Junior Achievement of Lincoln, the Great Plains Trails Network, Habitat for Humanity, Friendship Home and Special Olympics.
The Peeds’ charitable giving is all faith-driven, Rhonda said. And their desire is to make Lincoln a better place for their seven grandkids, employees and the entire community, Tom added.
Tom makes sure the funds are there, and Rhonda disperses them. “We see eye-to-eye on what we’re supporting,” Rhonda explained.
The couple fosters a culture of service and stewardship among their employees, too, by matching gifts to 10 to 15 charities annually through their employee donation program. To help recruit Sandhills Publishing’s 120 interns and 1,000 employees, the Peeds invest in both the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska Wesleyan University through scholarships.
Of the millions of dollars they invest in the Lincoln community annually, the Lincoln Diocese is their No. 1 benefactor. Monsignor John Perkinton, a longstanding educator and administrator with the diocese who has worked with the Peeds on capital campaigns, said they have also underwritten an initiative to help standardize computer technology and establish an infrastructure for all schools across the diocese.
“They are stalwart people of charity,” he added.
Rhonda served on the Lincoln Pius X Board of Trustees in the early 1990s, and the couple contributed to past Pius X High School and St. Joseph’s School capital campaigns. In 2014, they received the Distinguished Stewardship award from the Pius X Foundation for demonstrating exemplary service to Pius X High School, serving as role models in the community, being leaders in fulfilling the Foundation’s mission to “Restore all things in Christ” and sharing their gifts of time, talent and treasure.
The couple also has a great love for special needs children, Monsignor Perkinton shared. As director of Villa Marie Home and School for Exceptional Children in Waverly, he’s seen them meet multiple needs with gifts to assist with capital improvements and budgetary items.
“They’ve just done so much, it’s hard to quantify it all,” he said.
Madonna Foundation Director of Development Suzanne Sughroue called the Peeds very quiet and humble givers. They made a substantial gift to the Pediatric Outpatient facility that was dedicated in 2013, she said. And they made another contribution to the Madonna 50 campaign that brought about renovation of the Lincoln campus’ café, therapy gym and rooms, and a technology upgrade.
Sughroue said the Peeds had the option to have the therapy gym named after them but instead wanted it named for Sister Phyllis Hunhoff, the “godmother” and second administrator of what is now Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. Recently, when Sughroue asked if they would match a Go Fund Me drive to purchase two bionic legs, they agreed to have their AuctionTime.com business sponsor it.
Another cause the Peeds value greatly is the Food Bank of Lincoln. They’ve not only given financially but donate several thousand pounds of beef annually, primarily during the Student Hunger Drive called Food Fight that Rhonda helped start. She became the point-person after meeting a Davenport woman who wanted to bring it to Lincoln. The student-run food drive has raised more than 120,000 pounds of food in the last five years, according to Food Bank sources. Rhonda was also involved in getting the Food Bank’s backpack program expanded to the Catholic schools.
“The ongoing generosity of the Peed family has provided much-needed food to thousands of southeast Nebraskans for years,” said Food Bank of Lincoln Executive Director Scott Young. “They have helped the Food Bank grow our Child Hunger efforts to nearly 6,000 families per month during the school year and have bolstered our rural mobile pantry efforts in our 16-county service area.”
The Lincoln YMCA has benefited from the Peeds’ generosity, too. The couple has contributed to all of the major Y capital campaigns during President and CEO Barb Bettin’s tenure, with significant gifts to the Cooper, Fallbrook and Copple Y projects as well as Wright and Spirit parks.
“They have been faithful and consistent givers to the Strong Kids Campaign,” Bettin added. “They’re interested in youth development, one of our main focus areas.”
“Yes!” was the Peeds’ answer when approached to be a Lincoln sponsor for the Veterans’ Honor Flights to Washington D.C. They sponsored a charter plane for Vietnam Veterans’ flights in 2016 and 2017, and in September sponsored the Women’s Veteran Honor Flight. Next May, they will be the lead sponsor for the Purple Heart Flight for Nebraska’s Purple Heart recipients.
Tom and Rhonda Peed have left a handprint on many Lincoln organizations.
“They’re a perfect example of what generosity and engagement can do in a community,” Bettin said.