Giving Hearts Day, the 24-hour, online fundraising event to benefit charities in North Dakota and Minnesota, kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13.

Over the past 12 years, the annual event, hosted by the Fargo-based Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation and the Alex Stern Family Foundation, has benefited about 450 regional nonprofit organizations.

Promoted as the “Super Bowl” of giving in the Upper Midwest, Giving Hearts Day is seen as a way to boost public awareness of, and raise money for, the good works the nonprofits are doing to address needs in such areas as hunger, care for the elderly and education.

The event is also a way for these organizations to build relationships with current and prospective donors and hone their fundraising skills, DMF leaders say.

Locally, the HC Community Care Center and Food Pantry is among many charitable organizations participating in Giving Hearts Day.

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“This is our second year,” said Sondra Christoffer, director of the center, which opened in December 2018 in the Grand Cities Mall.

“We don’t have a goal this year,” Christoffer said. “We’ll just be thankful for however the community chooses to support and give to the Care Center.

“Giving Hearts Day is such a unique opportunity, just because of the energy and the way that the community -- and, really, the state -- gets behind this day. It’s really fun to be part of it and see how the community gets excited about it and rallies behind it (by) giving back to organizations that matter to them," she said.

With the increasing number of charities involved in Giving Hearts Day, gaining attention for a specific organization can be daunting.

“We’re being advertised with the Grand Forks Coalition, so people may have seen us on different media that way,” Christoffer said. "But mostly, we’re doing our promotions through Facebook this year and social media.”

In its first year of operation, the HC Community Care Center and Food Bank served more than 1,200 households and has given more than 200,000 pounds of food, she said.

"We really want to be a community project (and) partner with other churches, and area businesses and organizations to serve our community together,” said Christoffer, pointing out that the care center was founded as a ministry of Hope Church.

The issues surrounding food insecurity, access to health care and other unmet needs are challenging, she said.

“It really is a huge need, and it’s more than any one church can do -- so to work together is really our dream," she said.

Steady increase in donors and donations

Since the first Giving Hearts Day in 2008, donors have given more than $71 million, 100% of which goes directly to the participating charities, according to the Giving Hearts Day website.

In 2019, 30,675 donors gave 67,765 gifts totaling $16,312,056, about $3.2 million more than in 2018 and nearly $6 million more than in 2017.

Donations are tax deductible, and the donor receives a receipt via email immediately following the online donation. Some donations may be eligible for matching funds. Credit card transactions are secure and backed by the PCI Level 1 secure service provider certification, the highest level of internet security.

For more information, go online to www.givingheartsday.org .