George Family Donates $1 Million
To Springdale's Jones Center

May 2, 2014 | NW News | Erin Spandorf

The George family donated $1 million Thursday to The Jones Center Endowment Fund, the center's second large donation of 2014.

At A Glance

The Jones Center Endowment Fund

The endowment fund was established Dec. 14, 2012, with a $10 million donation from the Walton Family Foundation and a $10 million donation from the Care Foundation, a fund of the Endeavor Foundation. The Walton pledge included a challenge for a matching contribution of another $20 million. The Endeavor Foundation money counted as half of that with another $10 million to be raised by the Jones Center.

Source: Staff Report

Clifford referred to those who donate to the center as "pillars of the community." He said the close relationships between area businesses, organizations and families is part of what makes Northwest Arkansas special.

"Today, Gary, this is a big deal," Clifford said during the announcement to Gary George, chief operating officer of George's Inc. This isn't the first time the family has donated to the center, but it's the largest donation they have given.

Nine members of the George family sat in front of the stage during the announcement. George explained the donation is personal for him because his father and uncle were good friends with Harvey and Bernice Jones, founders of the center.

"I don't want them to be forgotten because they were very close," he said. "We're just happy to be helping, to be a part of this."

George said it's important for his family to donate to the center because it has an impact on people throughout the community, including employees at his company. He said it's important for people to give back to the community they live in.

Shaun Wilson, a Springdale resident, was using a stationary bicycle at the center Thursday. He said he, his wife and his two nieces have a family membership. He said the center is a good option for his family because it's cheaper than many other local gyms.

"Donations like that really help your average Joe person, who doesn't make a lot of money, to try to stay in shape," he said.

John Clark, also a Springdale resident, said he plays basketball at the center two to three times each week. He pays $3 each time, but it would be more difficult to afford if the prices were higher.

A $250,000 gift from the Walmart Foundation was the first large donation of the year, Clifford said. The money will go toward scholarships for nonprofit groups and needy families who want to use the center's services.

Officials will be announcing more donations in the coming months, Clifford said. The original goal for the endowment was to raise $30 million. Including upcoming donation announcements, they still need to raise about $2.5 million.

STAFF PHOTO ANTHONY REYES  Gary George takes a moment to gather himself Thursday while talking about lost family members at a ceremony.

STAFF PHOTO ANTHONY REYES Gary George takes a moment to gather himself Thursday while talking about lost family members at a ceremony.