LEIGH, Neb. -- Less than a year and a half after being challenged to match a $250,000 pledge from former community members, the village has surpassed expectations, raising over $800,000 for an endowment.

The Leigh Legacy Fund (LFF) was dormant until it restarted in 2015 and took off in 2020.

“Before we even had any money, people came in from the community,” said board member Michele Clausen said. “We had this board that was the dreams. What could we do with the money if we ever got it.”

LFF was challenged by former Leigh families and individuals in January 2023 to match the pledge of $200,000 and $50,000 from the Nebraska Community Foundation.

Leigh had just three years to get pledges and five years to reach that total.

It took just 16 months for the community to raise the funds.

“I just think everyone wanted to be apart of it too. In a community as close as we are,” Clausen said.

More than 130 donors in 14 states alongside those in Leigh helped match the funds needed.

“We don’t know what we’re going to need 15 years from now or 20 years from now,” said Justine Fischer, chair of LLF. “So instead of fundraising for each individual little thing, we now have this fund that we can put toward whatever.”

LLF plans to approach the community for ideas on what to add to the town.

The campaign continues as Leigh has until Dec. 31, 2025 to take pledges for the community.