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Area organizations gear up for Giving Hearts Day

Annual fundraising event benefits hundreds of organizations in 24-hour period on Thursday, Feb. 11.

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Pete Antonson, CEO of Northwood Deaconess Health Center, is shown in this 2020 Herald file photo. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Brian Halos will have a long day on Thursday, Feb. 11, starting at 2 a.m. and running through midnight. It’s Giving Hearts Day and he’s looking forward to it, he said.

Halos, director of the Care and Share Center in Crookston, said he’ll be at work, monitoring donations, entering checks in the system and sending thank you letters to donors for nearly 24 hours.

“It’s a busy day, but it’s a good day," he said.

Giving Hearts Day starts at 12:01 a.m. and runs through midnight Thursday. Donors who participate in the online campaign, run by the Dakota Medical Foundation, the High Impact Institute and the Alex Stern Family Foundation of Fargo, will see their gifts matched by the foundation. Participating nonprofit organizations are listed online at www.givingheartsday.org .

Donors also may deliver checks to an organization, with Giving Hearts Day in the memo line, to qualify for the matching contribution.

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The Care and Share Center is one of hundreds of nonprofit organizations that benefit from the annual event in northwest Minnesota and North Dakota. Funds raised through the 24-hour campaign will go to the center’s general operating account to fund direct services, Halos said.

“All of our donors and contributors are pretty vital to our operation here,” he said. “(Giving Hearts Day) is pretty vital to our existence. Our donors are pretty faithful supporters, and every year, it seems we get new donors, and some of them may end up becoming repeat donors.”

The Giving Hearts Day, which was founded in 2008, has helped charities in this region raise more than $90 million from an ever-increasing community of donors, many of whom get to experience the joy of giving for the first time, according to the foundation’s website.

The longest-running giving day in the country, the event also provides a platform for charities to build public awareness of their missions and lasting relationships with donors and volunteers.

Fundraising through Giving Hearts Day is especially important this year, during a pandemic, to “keep our doors open,” Halos said.

The Care and Share Center provides shelter for homeless people and meals at its soup kitchen. The center’s New Hope Food Bank provides sustenance for about 250 families each month. Last spring, when COVID struck, the food bank was gearing up to open April 16, after the community was without one for several months, Halos said.

During the first month of operations, the food bank served more than 400 families -- a spike that he attributes to people losing jobs or leaving work out of fear of catching the virus.

This year, all of the funds raised by United Way of Crookston during Giving Hearts Day will be used to support the food bank, Halos said.

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Funds raised through Giving Hearts Day are also very important to the educational mission of Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks, said Carl Adolphson, president. Now in its fifth year of participation, the Sacred Heart Foundation has raised from $20,00 to 30,000 each year, he said. All of that income is placed in a scholarship fund for students in need.

“(Giving Hearts Day) is a big reason that some of our students are able to attend Sacred Heart School,” Adolphson said.

In addition to the match provided through the Dakota Medical Foundation, the Sacred Heart Foundation also will receive a match of $10,000, which has been given by an anonymous donor, he said.

Over the past four years, 77 students have benefited through the Giving Hearts Day scholarship program, said Mark Brickson, alumni relations director for the Sacred Heart Foundation, noting that some families also have been helped if they experience a financial issue mid-school year.

“It’s been very successful,” Brickson said, noting that 212 donors have contributed to the school’s foundation through Giving Hearts Day.

At Northwood Deaconess Health Center, CEO Pete Antonson said funds raised through Giving Hearts Day will help pay for ultrasound equipment, replacing a mobile unit that’s available only a half-day each week.

The Northwood American Legion also is matching gifts up to $10,000 to the health center through Giving Hearts Day this year, Antonson said.

With the new ultrasound equipment, “we will be able to keep people home and treat people,” he said. “It’s a win-win. And, when the patient wins, ultimately, we win.”

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Funds raised on Giving Hearts Day typically are used for special projects or to purchase equipment sooner than otherwise would have been possible, he said.

Giving Hearts Day also is reaching donors who may have grown up in Northwood or the area, but live elsewhere, he said.

“It builds our donor base. People see us, as they’re scrolling through the list, and decide to support us. I think we’re reaching donors who, otherwise, we wouldn’t reach," Antonson said.

For more information on Giving Hearts Day, go online to www.givingheartsday.org or call the Dakota Medical Foundation at (701) 271-0263.

Related Topics: NONPROFITSGIVING HEARTS DAY
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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