Grinnell Mutual donates $40,000 to Jolly Holiday Lights

After unusual amounts of winter rain, which led to power outages and flooding parking areas, Jolly Holiday Lights, the Make-A-Wish® of Iowa’s biggest annual fundraiser, went unexpectedly dark on Dec. 13. The Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation wanted to help the organization, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions, turn the lights back on next year.

Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company’s CEO Larry Jansen presented Make-A-Wish Iowa’s President and CEO, Chris Voggesser, a check for $40,000 on Friday, Dec. 18 at the company’s headquarters in Grinnell, Iowa. Voggesser said the charity lost half its expected 2015 proceeds, about $200,000, by having to close down.

“This is game-changing,” Voggesser said. “It’s so humbling. The response from everyone has been overwhelming — I’ll put Iowa up against anywhere in the country when it comes to generosity. We don’t take anything for granted and we need friends like Grinnell Mutual to make things happen.”

Grinnell Mutual has another connection to the Jolly Holiday Lights: Dave Wingert, executive vice president of support operations, was the event’s cofounder 20 years ago.

“The light display has become such a holiday tradition,” Jansen said. “We’re all honored to play a part in making sure that tradition continues.”

Voggesser said “Oh, we’ll be back; we’ll rebuild.”