Giving to others is what Cherryland-ers do best. It’s built into the cooperative DNA. Cherryland members and employees do not focus on just their own needs, but also on those of the community at large.

One of the greatest parts of giving back is that it doesn’t stop after volunteering at the food pantry or donating money to Cherryland Cares. It’s a domino effect; when a person gives to someone in need, they carry on that giving spirit. Leelanau County Cancer Foundation is one of those dominoes.

In September 2016, Leelanau County Cancer Foundation (LCCF) was one of three Cherryland Cares grant recipients for that quarter. The Foundation provides financial assistance to Leelanau County residents and families who have been impacted by cancer.

The organization started seven years ago in collaboration with Munson Regional Healthcare Foundation. In April 2016, LCCF branched off on its own. Marti Paquette, secretary and treasurer at LCCF, said the move “provided LCCF with more control and accountability regarding the distribution of funds to Leelanau County families affected by cancer.”

Their history and increased visibility in Leelanau County brought them success, almost too much. “It didn’t take us long to realize that the need in our county was great,” explained Paquette. In the summer of 2016, the monies LCCF raised through their traditional avenues, including their annual fundraiser “La Tea Da High Tea” and annual solicitation letter, were quickly depleting. They needed a little extra help.

As luck would have it, Cherryland’s member relations manager Rachel Johnson attended the “La Tea Da High Tea” fundraiser that year. Johnson invited Paquette to the cooperative to talk more about LCCF and potential Cherryland Cares grant opportunities. One application and a volunteer board meeting later, LCCF was given the additional help needed to carry on their mission.

With the funds from Cherryland Cares and other entities, LCCF has eased the financial burden of Leelanau County residents and their families by helping with everyday expenses. These expenses include rent, mortgage payments, gas, prescriptions and cell phone bills. They also invest in simple luxuries like massages, giving patients comfort and some physical relief during their treatment. These seemingly simple gestures help alleviate considerable pressure for these individuals and their families.

Leelanau County Cancer Foundation’s success illustrates how the spirit of giving ripples out across a community. All it takes is the first domino to fall—that is, the first act of kindness. Cherryland members and employees can proudly say that they like to knock over the first domino.