It doesn't take the resources of a Rockefeller to be a philanthropist.
It only takes a donation as little as $5,000 to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to establish a named endowment fund.
Hundreds of the smaller endowments, along with many major endowments, enabled the foundation give more than $2.2 million to 163 charitable organizations and hundreds of college students, according to its 1997 annual report.
A large portion of the Community Foundation's (formerly the Buffalo Foundation) assets are from funds entrusted to the foundation through wills or endowments in the name of a particular person or family. Many of the donors specify how the earnings of their particular donation is to be used while others leave it to the discretion of the foundation.
"The minimum for a named endowment," Gail Johnstone, foundation executive director explained, "is $5,000, but there is no minimum for contributions to the Scholarship Fund."
This fall, 550 students will return to college with financial assistance from the foundation totaling $415,000.
The 1998 foundation's scholarship awards were 22 percent higher than the $340,000 given out in 1997.
One of the more unusual scholarship funds emerged from a bitter tax battle the City of Buffalo won 15 years ago -- the Cargill Scholarship.
Two of this year's recipients of the scholarship are Elizabeth Miller of Buffalo and Isaac Habermehl of North Collins.
Cargill, a milling operator, had lost a battle not to pay the City of Buffalo about $3 million in back taxes on three abandoned properties that were the former site of its Buffalo operations.
Cargill had shifted all milling operations out of Buffalo several years before.
A $100,000 scholarship fund was negotiated as part of the settlement as "an acknowledgment of Cargill's civic responsibility to Buffalo," a city hall official was quoted at the time.
Cargill requested preference be given, if possible, to students in the agriculture field or attending Buffalo area colleges.
Habermehl, who comes from a family of dairy farmers in North Collins, received a $2,537 scholarship to begin his studies in agricultural education at Cornell University. He wants to teach and "someday have a small farm of my own.
"With teaching, I could have a small farm on the side," he said, "and that could even be good for my teaching."
Ms. Miller fills the other half of the Cargill equation -- she is a graduate student in D'Youville College's international business classes.
The mother of two children -- both of whom are also in college -- Ms. Miller had been an employee of a federal agency until the Buffalo office was down-sized and her position eliminated.
"They talked about finding another spot for me," Ms. Miller said, "but I decided to go for a career change. I had been taking a few classes at D'Youville, but when the college decided to establish the International Business major, the decision was easy. All I had to worry about was having enough money to pay for tuition and books."
Ms. Miller's scholarship is only $275 "but that will cover my books," she said. "and believe me, every little bit helps."