The Joy of Giving

The Magaldis Invest Their Time, Talents, and Treasures in Others

As a young boy, Tony Magaldi watched his father buy a new television set for a local laundromat attendant who was also a widow and mother. “He always tried to help people. That spurred me on too,” Tony says.

“My parents lived paycheck to paycheck. My dad was a steelworker on the south side of Chicago,” recalls Tammy Magaldi, Tony’s wife. “While they didn’t give cash, they gave of themselves.”

Now decades later, the couple says their parents’ small acts of kindness unleashed a passion for philanthropy that continues to grow. Like the single spark that ignites an autumn bonfire or a handful of loaves and fishes that grew to feed 5,000, one generous gesture leads to another.

Sitting on their porch on a sunny July afternoon, the pair allows themselves a brief moment in the limelight. They are eager to share the rewards of living with open hands. By describing the deep joys of giving, Tony and Tammy hope others will feel inspired to freely give of their time, talents, and treasures as well.

Tammy and Tony Magaldi
Tony and Tammy Magaldi hope others will feel inspired to freely give.


“Tammy and I both come from nothing. God put money in our hands, and if we start clenching our fists, it could be taken away in an instant,” Tony says. “We feel so fortunate that he has put this in our hands to give.”

Besides strengthening their faith, philanthropy brings the couple closer together. Giving readily multiplies their joy and strengthens their bond.

Years ago, the couple set up a donor-advised fund through the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. The setup streamlines donations and vets charities and nonprofits to help guide their giving and make it easier to focus on giving to nonprofits, schools and ministries in Elkhart County and the surrounding community. They chose the Community Foundation to aid their generosity.

“We place money there knowing we’re going to get rid of it,” Tammy says. Each year, the Magaldis aim to empty the account. This goal keeps them tuned in to their community, available to offer help for urgent needs both great and small.

“Our goal is to be involved in organizations that change people’s lives, whether it’s literally providing food or food for the soul.”

— Tammy Magaldi

“The account is there whenever a need arises,” Tony says. “Because God puts the money there, if he brings someone across my path who needs it, that’s God tapping us on the shoulder.

So we pray about it, I come up with a number, and Tammy will add to it.”

“It’s really awesome to be on the same page about generosity,” she adds with a smile.

Philanthropy can take many forms. For busy business owners like the Magaldis, writing a check is often easier than volunteering. Tammy says she feels challenged and inspired by people who give generously of their time. Since the couple knows financial donations can become mechanical over the years, they strive to slow down enough to listen to people’s stories and map out a course for lasting impact. The reward is worth the wait.

Conversations around the Magaldi table
Conversations around the Magaldi table

Whenever possible, the pair seeks opportunities to both give and serve. They like to understand and connect deeply with the organization’s mission. Tammy is often drawn to helping women and children, while Tony enjoys supporting startups and pouring his time into men’s discipleship groups. If the couple can combine their talents to help a family flourish, they dive in.

Giving their time and talents doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes it is Tony inviting men recently released from prison to help him renovate houses. Other times, they’ve helped struggling parents make car payments, raked leaves, or delivered home-cooked meals. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the family donated food from Golden Corral, one of their businesses, to essential workers. And each December, the pair dresses up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to volunteer at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center toy store.

“When you can see the impact, those tend to be the initiatives we give to most. Our goal is to be involved in organizations that change people’s lives, whether it’s literally providing food or food for the soul,” Tammy says.

South Central Elkhart

Like the urge to give, the desire to change lives can be traced back to the family’s faith. They give because they’ve received. They give quietly, hoping to quietly make an impact, but letting God do the work.
“It’s not us. It’s God through us,” Tony says.

The Magaldis’ generosity blossomed from the seeds of their parents’ generosity. Now they hope their story will inspire others to map out their own unique philanthropic plans.

“Everybody can be generous,” Tammy says. “You don’t have to have money. You can give of your time and talents. Even just a kind word can make a difference.”


This story appeared in the 2021 Annual Report.

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