Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson

Local Resident on a mission to 'pay it forward'


When Blain Schilreff started the process of gathering donations to buy long time Kimball resident Caroljo Nagel a new car, it was merely just a small dream, a small act he believed could dispel the darkness permeating the news and the nation in general.

However, as time has gone by and donations have poured in, it is clear that the seemingly small act reflects something much bigger than simply the kindness shown for the cause at hand.

It wasn’t until the morning of November 1 that the scope of the project truly hit Schilreff while he was brushing his teeth while getting ready for work.

“I was brushing my teeth, and I’m telling you this is God. It hit me. I shouldn’t be here today. He has saved me so many times this year. I’m gay, and I’ve been through a lot for being different. That morning it hit me like no other that he saved me from bad happening to me, and it was my turn to pay it forward,” Schilreff said.

As of November 3, donations have reached over $2,000.

“We’ve raised $2,300 for the car. We’ve got $1,000 from an anonymous donor for the license plates. If it doesn’t take the $1,000 we’ll open up a car fund for oil changes and gas and that type of thing. We still need to work through the details of that,” Schilreff said.

Donations have not only come from the Kimball community. Donations have spread across the nation with money being sent in from Minnesota, Wyoming, Arizona, and other parts of Nebraska.

“Good people are everywhere, and we all can have a positive effect,” Schilreff said.

According to Schilreff, putting the donations together and starting the process of seeking money to help buy Nagel a new car stemmed from a deeper need, a deeper desire to show people that there is still good in this world contrary to the bad news that seems to abound in our society.

“It’s not about a car. It’s about pulling together as a community and helping someone that needs something. That’s what it’s about,” Schilreff said.

Schilreff, who works at Cabela’s in Sidney, has spent much of his free time after work the past few weeks going from door to door in Kimball to get the word out about the project, hoping that residents will be moved to contribute to the cause.

“Every house in Kimball, except the north side, has gotten a flyer from me which is taking an enormous amount of my time, but I felt it was important to get the word out. Even if they picked up the flyer and threw it away, at least they had an opportunity to read that people can do good no matter who they are,” Schilreff said.

He is also quick to point out that the donations that have been received have not come from people who have excessive amounts of money to spend, but rather those who have lived from paycheck to paycheck and understand the need for help and understanding during a time of struggle, giving even the little that they have to the cause.

“There’s a lady that walked in my office at Cabela’s, shut the door, sat down and said, ‘Blain, I’m a little embarrassed to give this dollar to you, but I live pay day to day and can’t afford any more than this. But here’s a dollar. I just wanted to say I was part of something that was absolutely amazing,’” Schilreff said

Along the way, Schilreff has shared many moments with local residents that have moved him to tears when realizing how much compassion that people can show another human being and a cause as simple as finding a new car for someone in need.

“The lady who donated $1,000 got a hold of me saying she wanted to talk to me. Halloween night, at 9:30 or so, I walked up to this person’s house and went to put a flyer up. She came out, and we got to talking. She said, ‘Blain, I have to donate $1,000. It’s weighing on me.’ We both started crying, and I had to walk away from it,” Schillreff said.

When considering the project and questions of why Schilreff would go to such great lengths to help Nagel, Schilreff states it is because she is worth the effort and deserving of some help, even if she won’t outright ask for it.

“Whether it be a car, food, pay a payment or something else. It just so happens that she’s without a vehicle. To me, it’s about helping somebody who has already helped themselves. This is a woman who would do literally anything to get ahead and not waiting for a handout,” Schilreff said.

Though many might consider simply seeking enough funds for a cheap car that runs and can get a person from one place to another without complication, Schilreff wants to raise enough money to ensure that the car given to Nagel will be a permanent solution and not a temporary bandage for the time being.

“People ask why we don’t just give her an older car for $500, why something for $3,000? It’s because we’re trying to take the stress away from her having to worry about how she’s going to get around in a year. This isn’t about giving her a car to get from point A to point B and having to worry about fixing the problem in a year,” Schilreff said.

Although the project has raised a surprising amount of money since its inception, very few believed that it would ever be as successful as it has.

“My mother when I told her about it was completely behind me. When I put it on Facebook, I didn’t talk to anybody beforehand. The response was pretty unbelievable. After our first $500 my mom told me she was shocked. She never thought we would have raised that much money,” Schilreff said.

However, Schilreff states that he knew that the ultimate goal of the project could be reached from the very beginning.

“I don’t start something without the intent of making it big. I knew I was going to be able to pull it off. I had my doubters. I had my critics. But once you start getting people involved, you get a ripple effect,” Schilreff said.

For Schilreff, the true catalyst that decides whether any venture is successful lies in the passion shown towards it.

“If you go into something and you don’t have a passion for it, is anybody else going to have a passion for it? It literally was a passion of mine to help somebody else. If people can feel that passion, they’re going to have passion for it as well,” Schilreff said.

Though many would be quick to give Schilreff praise for his efforts in putting the donations together and championing the cause, he has no desire to have any glory to come to him because of his efforts.

“It has nothing to do with me. It’s beyond me now. It’s way beyond me. You don’t do something for someone hoping that you’re going to get something back,” Schilreff said.

If Schilreff were to have anything come out of the project other than the achievement of the ultimate goal of acquiring a new car for Nagel, it would be to show people that when a community comes together to support a cause, things get done.

“The point that everyone needs to get in Kimball is that everybody needs to stop being so judgmental and help their neighbors. It doesn’t matter who they are,” Schilreff said.

Schilreff will be accepting donations until November 22. Anyone interested in making a donation can send them to Schilreff at 617 South Jefferson St. in Kimball. If anyone has any questions about the project they can feel free to call Schilreff at 308-230-0195. All checks need to be made out to Caroljo Nagel.


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