History of the Sandhills Area Foundation

The Sandhills Area Foundation (SAF) is a public charity whose mission is to financially support area development and to accept and administer funds that meet the present and future needs of Cherry County residents.  Our purpose is to provide funding for scholarships, as well as social, charitable and educational projects that encourage community involvement and promote charitable giving.  Our steady growth is driven by the generosity, ideas and beliefs of donors that together we can make a lasting impact on the lives of the people who live, work and play in Cherry County. 


The Sandhills Area Foundation has been in existence since 1996, and like many new organizations, it started off small and slow. The seed was planted by Cal Robinson of North Platte, when he spoke at a Valentine Rotary meeting in the spring of 1996.

A committee was formed and laid the groundwork for the Foundation. Co-chairman were Bob Gustafson and Jan Lallman, and the committee included Bill Quigley, Lew Johnson, Mary Young, Frank Sibert and Kay Wells and others. From this group, officers were selected. The first president was Bob Gustafson, Kay Wells was the first secretary, and Mary Young was the first treasurer. 

In October 1996, Bob and Mary Kay Gustafson, Frank and Shirley Sibert, and Carl and Kay Wells became the first lifetime members by giving $2,000 each. These funds were used to kick off the Foundation, which has grown to over $1,600,000. 

Jr. Bloom made a bequest of $500,000 to the Foundation’s endowment in 2003. Jr's request was to use the income from his contribution to support the scholarship program. Gerald and Norma Jean Keech, Mary Young, the Floyd Bryant family, Dr. James and Karen Butler, Dr. Tom Green and Bob and Jan Bass have also contributed significantly to the scholarship program, and the first scholarships were awarded to three high school students in 1999. In 2020, $69,500 in scholarships was awarded to 45 high school and college students from Cherry County, and over $600,000 has been awarded since 1999.


In 1999, Frank and Shirley Sibert made a generous donation of $100,000 which was used to help fund the grant program. The Sandhills Area Foundation has granted over $400,000 to organizations that assist in improving the quality of life in Cherry County.


​SAF relies heavily on memberships, donations and the annual fundraiser to meet the needs of Cherry County. Become a member and take pride in knowing that you are part of improving the quality of life in Cherry County.

Since its inception, The Sandhills Area Foundation has proudly supported the Kilgore Fire Department, Valentine Fire Department, Cub Scouts, Valentine Library, Valentine ball fields, TeamMates, Badger Boosters, American Legion Baseball, Valentine Junior Wrestling Club, Valentine EMTs, Sparks Cemetery, the Valentine Senior Center, Old Settlers Reunion, Valentine Players, Sandhills Leadership, Pineview, Valentine High School - band uniforms, Cherry County Ambulance Service, Mid-Plains Community College - distance learning equipment, Frederick Peak's Golf Course, Centennial Hall Museum, Valentine Rotary Club, Cherry County Veterans Memorial, and the Valentine Rural Fire Protection District and others.