An Oak Tree is one of the strongest trees that can be found in a forest, but its strength isn’t freely given to it… its strength is earned.

As storms loom on the horizon and winds begin to blow, an Oak Tree will dig its roots deeper, creating a solid foundation that can withstand the mightiest gusts and gales. As the root system spreads deeper into the ground, it gives the branches growing above stability. Stability to provide shelter for those who might find themselves in the storm’s wake.

This year has proven to be quite the storm, but, for Marietta Community Foundation, it was an opportunity to dig their roots deeper into the community to provide shelter to the citizens of Washington County.

When 2020 began, the Foundation had just celebrated a record-setting year in 2019. Coming off of this high, the Foundation’s board and staff looked to keep the momentum going. However, an unexpected storm was looming in the distance… COVID-19.

At this time, the Foundation was in the midst of its Spring Grant Cycle, but they knew it was the time to enact their plan to shelter and protect the county they serve.

“We notified all of our applicants that we would have to delay our Spring Grant Cycle to focus on the immediate needs that would inevitably stem from the regulations being put in place at that time,” said Allender. “Although we were still able to fund a few time-sensitive projects, we began focusing on a three-pronged plan we had been developing.”

The Foundation had kept an open line of communication with nonprofits and other organizations throughout Washington County to determine what initial steps needed to be taken first. After many extensive conversations, the Foundation developed its COVID-19 Community Plan. This plan focused initial efforts on supporting Washington County Seniors, stocking all area food pantries, and supplying resources to school-aged children.

“This is why donating to our Community Impact Fund is so crucial to the security of Washington County,” said Allender. “The Foundation can act quickly, efficiently, and effectively… Which is exactly what we did.”

Marietta Community Foundation’s Community Impact Fund is a fund dedicated to the advancement of Washington County. These funds can be utilized for a variety of purposes and projects, including emergencies, such as the situation surrounding COVID-19 in mid-March.

From that point on, the Foundation would continue to adapt their efforts, throughout the summer, as new needs would arise including the increased need for PPE, the continued fight against food insecurity, the need for educational materials for local children, and providing resources for local senior citizens.

As summer break came to an end for thousands of Washington County students, the Foundation turned their attention toward another pressing issue… what is going to happen with Washington County Schools?

As an answer to this issue, the Foundation committed $30,000 of their own funds in a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign called 60K For 6. This campaign would come to raise $60,000, in just six weeks, for Washington County’s six local K-12 school districts. These funds continue to be evenly disbursed to each school district to help protect students and teachers while creating a safe learning environment.

Within the next two weeks after the 60K For 6 announcement, the Foundation would launch two additional major campaigns: the 2020 Fall Grant Cycle and the Washington County Angel Tree Program.

On August 13th a call went out to all of Washington County’s nonprofits, including the nonprofits from the previously suspended cycle, that the 2020 Fall Grant Cycle had been given the greenlight. The Foundation received a record number of applications in a single cycle for projects all across Washington County.

Just five days after the announcement of their Fall Grant Cycle, the Foundation looked ahead to one of the busiest times of the year… Christmas. In 2019 Washington-Morgan Community Action announced they would be suspending their Secret Santa Program, a program that gave hundreds of low-income children gifts for the holiday season.

“As soon as we heard this program was being retired, we knew that we had to step in,” said Allender. “But, we knew it would be even more important than we had originally planned after everything 2020 had thrown at us… we wanted our local children to end this year on a positive note!”

After entering into a partnership with The Salvation Army to expand its existing Angel Tree Program, the Foundation established a $10,000 endowment, from their Community Impact Fund, to help with its sustainability, but they didn’t stop there.

The Foundation helped The Salvation Army with communications and coordination of the program. Through the Angel Tree Program, 560 local children would wake up to Christmas presents under their tree. Of the 560 children that received presents, the Foundation purchased gifts for 46 of them.

“Our efforts this year were made possible because community members believe in us,” said Allender. “We have proven ourselves and have earned their trust. Individuals who have given to our Community Impact Fund made all of this possible… that’s why we are called a ‘community foundation.’”

Despite the storm of COVID-19, the Foundation remains sturdy and unhindered in its mission. They reinvested a total of $382,709 to Washington County in 2020… if this year was unable to uproot this Foundation, then it is safe to say that they will continue to shelter Washington County forever.

Below is a summary of the Foundation’s total giving:

Community Impact Fund: $178,735

COVID-19 Community Response Fund: $139,109

Washington County Hardship & Disaster Relief Fund: $4,865

$60K For 6 Campaign Fund: $60,000

Marietta Community Foundation works to improve Washington County through grants and initiatives. If you would like to support the future work of the Foundation, please visit For those who wish to speak to an individual, please contact Heather Allender at 740-373-3286 or