Fields under water, 5.30

Water partially covers a farm field south of Elk Creek in May.

You might be one of them.

One of those people in those sleeper cells of goodness. Those secret groups (without the secret handshakes) that meet every month carrying cash.

Money they want to give away and then do.

People of the Random Acts of Kindness World, I’ve got your number.

Well, not literally, but I can vouch. I’ve heard from plenty of you over the years. You read a story of need in the newspaper and wonder if the reporter can help you get your money in the right hands.

It’s a wonderful thing.

And I know that last month, one of Lincoln’s kindness groups made its monthly donation to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

I know because a member of the group called me after the fact. It had been her turn to pick a recipient and she picked the foundation — which had already raised $3 million for Nebraska farmers and ranchers hit by the floods in March.

That was a lot of money, she said, but not yet enough.

She thought maybe I could use this space to root out her fellow RAKs and get them on board to donate, too. Form a cabal for a cause that has affected so many across the state.

She sent me to Megahn Schafer, the foundation’s executive director.

Schafer had accepted an invitation to speak to that RAK group at its June meeting. A first for her, she said.

“They contacted our office and had some interest in learning more about the flood and flood relief efforts.”

Her mission was to help them understand the breadth and depth of the crisis to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. What the foundation was doing to help and how their money would lend a hand.

She told me about it, too.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s response was swift, she said.

The group put out a news release, posted a donation link on its website and social media pages. It showed up as a vetted donation site on the Nebraska Strong page.

The board president talked to the media — 250 interviews, Schafer said, statewide and national.

The foundation received 4,000 donations in two months.

Almost as soon as the floods hit farms and rural communities, the phone in Schafer’s Lincoln office started ringing.

“One call would be someone crying and saying, ‘I don’t know what to do, I need help,’ and the next call would typically be, ‘How can I help?’”

The foundation had answers for both kinds of callers.

They set up a simple application process to serve immediate needs — hotel rooms and clean water and changes of clothes. They helped with hay and feed and veterinary supplies.

A second round of applications has been processed, she said Thursday. This time, the foundation asked more questions, making sure applicants had checked with their insurance companies and knew what government services they might apply for.

Then they answered pleas for help with longer-term projects — debris removal, fencing supplies and repairs to homes.

Every penny of every donation is tagged for relief, no administrative costs. So far, more than $2.8 million has gone out to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Requests for help? Those topped $35 million.

That unmet need? That’s why Schafer figures a woman whose giving group members pulled out their wallets and handed her $250 called the paper.

“I think they had a hard time shaking it,” she said.

In ordinary times, the foundation's primary mission is to run a USDA program called Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom.

It gives some scholarships, too. And it has a volunteer committee that sends speakers to county fairs or to groups that are interested in agriculture or how our food is produced.

And normally, it gets about 100 donations a month. In the two months after the flood, that number was 4,000.

One of them was from a dozen women in Lincoln.

Schafer was touched that they invited her to share the story of need. She was careful not to break their anonymity.

“It’s a reminder to folks that there are a lot of people who care about them,” she said. “And we know they have really big challenges in front of them that aren’t going to go away next week or next month.”

That’s why the kindness group reached out for help finding its do-gooding sisters and brothers.

The story Schafer told “pierced our hearts,” said the member who called me.

“We would like to remind other Acts of Kindness groups that this is a long-term problem … and with a joint effort from Lincoln groups, we would like to make a difference in the lives of the people responsible for putting meals on our tables.”

This is your reminder, all you sleeper cells of goodness.

If you need help connecting, I’ll keep your secrets.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @TheRealCLK.



Cindy Lange-Kubick joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1994 and has loved covering life in her hometown ever since. Will write for chocolate. Or coffee.

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