$50K donation pulled after school board hesitates to use word ‘blessed’ at donor’s request

GREENFIELD, Ind. -- A $50,000 donation to Greenfield-Central Schools came with a condition the school board was hesitant to adhere to.

An anonymous group wanted to contribute to the high school's new turf football field. In return they wanted the hashtag “#BlessTheWorld” to be used to acknowledge their donation.

In a March meeting, several school board members expressed concerns about the word "bless" and its religious affiliation.

"There was some apprehension about if that was a gray area. If that was a breach of the separation of church and state that is often quoted from the first amendment," Superintendent Harold Olin said.

The school board has to approve all donations over $1,000. They were set to discuss the donation in the April meeting. However, Tuesday afternoon, the anonymous donors sent a letter to the superintendent saying they no longer wished to make the donation after it caused controversy.

"So it's certainly disappointing but I do understand their apprehension as do I understand our boards. Our school board wants to make sure that just because we take a $50,000 donation that we don't end up paying $100,000 in legal fees trying to support why we accepted that," Olin said.

In the letter, the group said the goal of the “#BlessTheWorld” hashtag was to promote giving back and making a difference. While some community members expressed their opposition online, we only found supporters during our time in Greenfield.

"I think it would be a great admonishment for us to consider our blessings every day," Joe Hurst said.

Others felt their rights were suppressed as well.

"Based on religion or stuff like that, everybody has to stop. You can't do this, you can't do that. And you forget the people that are more religious they're getting to be afraid to do it but they have the right to do it too," Jack Schultz said.

The total cost of the new turf field is about $800,000. This was the largest donation so far. Olin says the plan for the new field is still on schedule despite the decision from the group to withdraw its donation.