Philanthropy beat: Good Samaritan brings $16,000 for Salvation Army heat program

When Bill Kocke saw a man take a bloody fall on a staircase in downtown Minneapolis in November, he yelled to a guard to call 911 and tried to stop the bleeding from a gash on his forehead.

The good Samaritan stayed with the man until paramedics arrived, talking to him to make sure he didn’t go into shock. Last month Kocke got a “shock” of his own.

The injured man, who prefers to remain anonymous, tracked Kocke down to thank him personally for his help. They later ran into each other in LaSalle Plaza where they both work. One conversation led to another — and then to a surprise $16,000 donation to the Salvation Army HeatShare program.

“I was speechless,’’ said Kocke, a CenterPoint Energy employee who works on the company’s Gas Affordability Program that helps low-income customers pay their heat bills.

Kocke said he had mentioned HeatShare to the man during one of their casual conversations, as an example of a nonprofit that provides emergency assistance to folks in need. It was a frigid, snowy day, and the media had just reported a surge in demand for heat assistance, he said.

Kocke had no idea that the man he was talking to was an executive at Peregrine Capital Management, a $2.4 billion investment firm.

The executive initially told Kocke that his firm would donate $10,000 to HeatShare. But a few days later, he called him back, saying that other folks at Peregrine wanted to pitch in.

The donation had hit $16,000.

“I happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Kocke, who still marvels at the turn of events. “I didn’t know this guy from Adam. It shows there’s still a lot of good people in the world.”

The folks at Twin Cities Salvation Army also were thrilled.

“This incredible donation — given under incredible circumstances — will have an incredible impact on dozens of families this winter,” said Major Jeff Strickler.

“By helping one person, he [Kocke] ultimately helped so many.”

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

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