Gift exemplifies Shickley’s can-do attitude

When a community fosters belonging, anything can happen. In Shickley, a standard case of neighbors helping neighbors resulted in a gift for the Shickley Community Foundation Fund.

David Stolzenburg died in May 2020. He is remembered for his passion for teaching, operating the family farm, coaching, and much more. He taught high school science for more than 40 years. His longtime friend and neighbor, Charles Dondlinger, said he left a lasting impact on students .

“All the kids I’ve talked to over the years who were his students, they all just loved him,” Charles said.

David had at least one last impact to make on the Shickley area. Through the course of his life, he had amassed a collection of aluminum cans in a small shed on his farm. His friends and family saw potential there.

David’s wife, Gayle, had recently undergone knee surgery, which made it difficult to keep up with the chores around the farm—including deciding what to do with all those cans. That’s when Charles decided to roll up his sleeves and get to work. Over six months, he crushed and bagged 80,000 cans, 60 years’ worth by his estimation, then hauled them to City Iron and Metal in Hastings for recycling.

Gayle wanted to donate the money to the local affiliated fund. When Charles told the recycling center employees to make the check out for a charitable donation, they increased the payout by 40 cents per pound—for a total of $700.

She wanted to make that number an even $1,000, so she wrote a check to cover the difference. 

“I just thought a nice, round number would be better,” Gayle said.

She said David would have been thrilled to know his collection of cans turned into a gift for the community he lived in his whole life. Fund members were thrilled as well as grateful for the surprise donation.

“The Shickley Community Foundation Fund now has $1,000 we didn’t have last month, simply because a kindly neighbor helped clean up a temporarily disabled widow’s property,” said chair Loree Hendrickson. “Community really is everything.”

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