Last month, the Ackley Volunteer Ambulance Service picked up its new ambulance. At $145,000, it’s not an insignificant purchase for the community, which has about 1,500 residents. It’s an even bigger deal when you consider that more than half of that cost was funded by donations (the rest is being paid by a loan taken out by the City of Ackley). About half of that fundraising – nearly $40,000 – was raised in two weeks last fall.

The Barlow Family Foundation is in the seventh year of its fundraising blitz known as the Community Challenge. For two weeks every October since 2013, the foundation (which is the philanthropic arm of Iowa Falls State Bank) encourages preselected community organizations to fundraise for a specific project. All qualifying donations collected during those two weeks – up to a predetermined goal – are matched by the Foundation. That’s how the Ackley Volunteer Ambulance Service collected $39,914 last year, how the Hubbard Community Medical Center raised $63,058 in 2017, and how the Iowa Falls-Alden FFA Boosters raised $33,130 in 2016. It’s how the Foundation, working with 28 organizations over the last six years has raised more than $750,000 for projects from which every person in Hardin County has benefited.

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