Dotty’s Story: A Legacy of Giving

“Growing up, I was a real penny pincher..”

Northeast Iowa Food Bank


What does a woman do with her money when her family is content and she’s halfway through the year to her 101st birthday?

When many of us have money to spare, we might use it to fill our lives with more material goods. But Dorothy “Dotty” Winkey, who grew up in the Great Depression and is used to saving and thrifting, doesn’t need any extra stuff. “Growing up, I was a real penny pincher,” she laughs. We ask why she had started giving to charities. “I don’t know; I had more money than I needed, and I had given [my daughter] enough,” she muses. So what’s next? Her answer is clear: giving back.

As we sit down at the little kitchen table in her small assisted living apartment in Clarksville, Dotty pulls out the Charity Watch guide she uses to search for only the highest-rated organizations. For choosing national and international causes, she says, it can come down to “eeny-meeny-miny-moe,” but for local organizations like the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, the decision to give is simpler. Giving locally is just what you should do. Dotty gives annually as well as helping the NEIFB with one-time donations to cover costs of a specific need.

Now at 100 years old, Dotty regales us with tale after tale of her extraordinary life, with photos to match. She is writing stories of her memories which she emails out to a small number of interested people, who in turn share the stories with other people they know. She reflects on her memories in a somewhat practical way, recalling the good and the bad with equal acceptance and a dash of good humor. Dotty has enough of these chapters now to fill a large book, and shows no signs of stopping.

We at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank greatly appreciate our community members who choose to spend their money to continually giving back. It’s why we are so grateful to hear the stories of donors like Dotty. With a century of memories and a heart for giving, Dotty Winkey is certainly remarkable.