Impact Stories

‘Home’ Is Where the Heart Is

Penn State campus

Impact Stories

‘Home’ Is Where the Heart Is

Tom and Sandra Spring with their family

Tom and Sonnie Spring gathered with recipients of the Thomas and Sandra Spring Scholarship last fall for the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Scholarships and Awards Banquet.

It’s not easy to get from the tiny, unincorporated village of Home, Pennsylvania to Penn State’s University Park campus. Whether you go south through Hollidaysburg or north through Clearfield County, the road is long and winding.

Yet more and more students will be making the journey thanks to the generosity of Tom and Sandra “Sonnie” Spring, longtime residents of Home.

In 2015, the Indiana County couple made a gift of stock to endow the Thomas and Sandra Spring Scholarship, which will benefit students from Marion Center High School, near Home, who wish to study agriculture at Penn State. Last year, they added to that commitment through their estate plans, affirming that Home really is where the heart is.

“We’re grateful for the life Penn State enabled us to build, and we want to help students in our area to find their own way forward,” says Tom.

A native of Danville, Pennsylvania, Tom graduated from the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1958 with a degree in Agricultural Education. Herself a graduate of Meadville Area High School, Sonnie has embraced the University as her own.

While Indiana County is IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) territory, the Springs bring the spirit of Happy Valley to Home. The couple are lifetime members of the Penn State Alumni Association and avid fans of WPSU, to which they have made gifts every year for the last two decades. A replica of the Nittany Lion statue, which Tom hand-carved out of rosewood, is displayed in their living room, and a copy of The Penn Stater magazine can usually be found on their coffee table.

In addition to a love for Penn State, Tom and Sonnie share a love for agriculture. Though Tom retired as a manager of a local trucking company, he began his career as an agricultural educator. Sonnie served for forty-one years as a customer service representative for a mail-order tree nursery before her retirement. The two are passionate gardeners and landscapers, a talent on display outside their home and on their dinner table.

In the spring of 2016, the couple took their devotion to Penn State, agriculture, and students from Indiana County to an extraordinary new level. With no heirs of their own, they committed their entire estate—house, land, and retirement accounts—to the University, with the intention that their assets ultimately be used to grow the Thomas and Sandra Spring Scholarship. This will significantly increase the impact on students from Home and the surrounding area.

While modest, Tom and Sonnie enjoy considering all the good their philanthropy will do in the years to come.

“There’s so much to learn in agriculture,” says Sonnie. “We don’t know who our scholarship will benefit, but we’re excited at the impact it will make.”

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Penn State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Penn State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at c/o Office of Gift Planning, 212 The 103 Building, University Park, PA 16802, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Penn State or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Penn State as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Penn State as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Penn State where you agree to make a gift to Penn State and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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