Community rallies to save property of Army veteran

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Kimberly Winn will be able to keep her land as the result of a community effort to raise her funds. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
Kimberly Winn will be able to keep her land as the result of a community effort to raise her funds. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

Thanks to donations from the Williamsburg community, Army veteran Kimberly Winn will be able to keep land that has been in her family for five generations.

WYDaily reported Thursday that Winn was delinquent more than $2,400 in fees associated with her two-acre Toano property. The veteran of the first Gulf War had until Friday to pay off her delinquency.

She would see the property head to auction if she failed to pay off her debt to the James City County’s Treasurer’s Office.

In one day, from Thursday morning into Friday, community citizens raised more than the amount needed to pay off Winn’s debt.

A GoFundMe campaign was founded on Winn’s behalf, with area residents contributing $1,821 through 41 donations. Ten private donations to the James City County Treasury Department reduced Winn’s balance to $1,416.11 as of 10:30 a.m. Friday, confirmed Holly Andrews, Deputy Treasurer for James City County. Between the online campaign and direct donations to the county’s treasury, Winn’s balance owed to the county will be paid in full.

“It’s such a weight off,” Winn said through tears after hearing the news Friday. “When my father left me the land, I knew it was important to keep it.”

While GoFundMe campaigns can take three to five days to deliver funds, Andrews confirmed that if Winn used the funds to pay the Treasurer next week, she would be able to retain the land.

The parcel was delinquent when Winn inherited the property from her father in 1998. Winn, a disabled veteran, paid off delinquent taxes in January. However, fees associated with the delinquency remained, including legal fees incurred by the county. Virginia law allows local governments to auction property delinquent in fees.

Connie Begly, who founded the GoFundMe campaign, said the campaign reached its goal when a private donor made a substantial contribution Friday morning. Begly said the man did not provide his last name, as he desired anonymity, but told her, “The world is full of good people. If you can’t find one, be one.”

While Begly posted a donation of $967 on the GoFundMe campaign to signify that the community had reached its goal, she said that the number was the sum of all donations made directly to the Treasurer’s Office that she was aware of. She added that only Winn has access to the funds raised by the campaign.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much,” Winn said in reference to those who made contributions on her behalf.  “Community does make a big difference. God bless you all. God bless you all 100-fold.”

“I’m so grateful,” she added. “I don’t know the best way to say ‘Thank you.’”