Sammy Fund surpasses $500,000 in grants with Tuesday distribution

Article by MIKE SORENSEN Herald-Whig Staff Writer | | January 3, 2023

QUINCY — Grants distributed from the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity fund, under the guidance of the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri, reached a milestone on Tuesday as nearly $40,000 was distributed to more than two dozen programs.

The grant distribution on Tuesday at the Oakley-Lindsay Center brought the total funding donated since the fund set up in 2000 to $523,000 in memory of Samantha “Sammy” Otte who passed away at age 10 following a liver transplant necessitated by cystic fibrosis.

“I’m astounded that we’ve surpassed the half-million dollar mark,” Samantha’s mom, June Otte, said Tuesday. June, along with her husband Chuck Otte, established the Sammy Fund. “I think it’s a sign of the generous community we live in that this was possible. There are so many people that have contributed to this.”

“The Ottes understand the power of collaborative philanthropy, and the legacy that it leaves for their daughter, ” said Kent Embree, program officer for the Community Foundation. “The strength of the grant program we operate with the Ottes’ input is that it touches such a wide group of children in the community through the diverse groups and programs supported.”

Tuesday’s grants were presented to a wide array of organizations and programs, ranging from the Covered Bottoms Diaper Bank, providing diapers to low-income families to the Bella Ease REACH program, which among other aspects, helps kids prepare to transition into college.

“Samantha had so many interests in life,” June Otte said. “She was a scout, she was an artist, she played the harp, she loved theater. She was in a production here (at QCT). Looking back, it seemed like she wanted to do as much as she could during her lifetime, almost like she knew, at some point, she wouldn’t be here forever. So part of what we do is to reflect the things that she enjoyed, and to try and make sure all children can enjoy them.

“But it’s also grown way beyond that, too. There’s so much need in the community any more, with basics like diapers and period products for girls, there’s just so much need, and we want to help as much as we can.”

A large part of the funding for the Sammy Fund comes from the Sammy & Kids Golf Outing, now handed by the Gem City Breakfast Kiwanis, with proceeds being returned to the fund each year…

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