Charities, donors gear up for annual Giving Hearts Day, Feb. 9

Annual giving event supports 550 charities throughout North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota; donations may be pre-scheduled.

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Megan Rupe, a volunteer with Journey Home Animal Rescue, hangs out with Karma, a mixed breed that is looking for a home. Journey Home Animal Rescue is participating in the Giving Heart Day event, Feb. 9, and is hoping to meet its fundraising goal of $30,000. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
<a presentation="role" href="">Eric Hyld</a>en/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – Thursday, Feb. 9, will mark the second time Journey Home Animal Rescue is participating in the annual Giving Hearts Day – and the organization’s president is excited to see the results of this year’s effort.

In 2022, the all-volunteer organization reached its goal of $30,000 and actually raised substantially more, said Leslie Rethemeier. “(The final total) was over or close to $40,000 – it was very exciting.”

Giving Hearts Day, a 24-hour giving event, is a way for the public to support nearly 550 charities across North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Donors may provide monetary gifts, volunteer their time and services. They also can give new and used goods.

Donors may pre-schedule their gifts. For more information, visit and select the charity or charities you wish to support.  

For Journey Home Animal Rescue — an organization based in the Grand Forks area — Giving Hearts Day represents “our biggest fundraiser of the year, so we rely heavily on it,” Rethemeier said. “We are extremely grateful for the (new) support and the continuing support.


“Honestly, it allows us to save animals. It allows us to fulfill our mission, because we raise all our funds; we don’t get any help from the government.”

This year, “we’re hoping to raise $30,000,” said Megan Rupe, a volunteer with Journey Home. “That would be huge for us.”

The funds will be used to cover expenses such as animals’ medical care, spaying and neutering, and transportation, as well as supplies for foster caregivers.

Most of last year’s donors to Journey Home Animal Rescue live in the region, Rethemeier said. “We have a lot of continuous supporters, and then we did get some fantastic new supporters as well.”

She attributes the fundraising success in 2022 to the emphasis Giving Hearts Day organizers place on social media.

“We had a good platform of social media that we had done – and just everybody working together and everybody’s great work,” she said.

The charity depends totally on contributions to fund its goal of helping animals in need.

“We are committed to keeping pets safe, happy and healthy while they wait to be placed in a forever home,” its mission statement reads. Almost all of the animals that come into its care are placed in foster homes until they’re adopted.


Since its inception in June 2019, Journey Home Animal Rescue has saved more than 5,000 animals.

Almost all of 200 rescued animals – about half cats and half dogs – are in foster homes in this region, Rupe said. Some of the animals are pregnant.

“We also get the occasional chicken and Guinea pig," she said.

The organization has partnerships with regional Native American reservations and rural pounds. It also receives animals that owners must surrender due to financial, relocation and animal behavior issues, she said.

Journey Home volunteers also go out in frigid weather to find and rescue animals that may freeze to death, and they accompany law enforcement officials to pick up animals “in scary situations,” Rupe said.

The organization has enlisted more than 300 volunteers, she said, but “we can always use more.”

Giving Hearts Day sparks connections

Each year, Giving Hearts Day provides a platform for charities to fund their missions through an ever-increasing community of donors, many of whom get to experience the joy of giving for the first time, according to its website.

Hosted by the Dakota Medical, Impact and Alex Stern Family foundations, based in Fargo, Giving Hearts Day organizers have helped area charities “better tell their mission story, promote online giving, and lead conversations with donors, preparing them for a one-day ‘home run’ and giving them a fundraising system they can use all year long.”


Through Giving Hearts Day training, charity leaders learn a whole new system for attracting donors, building a sustaining donor base, and raising major gifts.

A wide range of charities are involved with the program, including those working to support: animals, art and culture, basic needs, crisis intervention, disability services and resources, faith-based organizations, health and wellness, youth, senior services, civil rights, environment, mental health and veterans.

Giving Hearts Day organizers encourage the public “to find a charity to love, and the excitement of this event helps charities elevate and cultivate donor relationships,” according its website.

Founded in 2008, Giving Hearts Day is the longest-running giving event in the United States. Since 2008, donors have given more than $138 million, all of which goes directly to participating charities. On average, donors give to two charities.

In 2022, the event generated more than $26.64 million in funds from more than 41,000 donors for regional nonprofit organizations. More than 800 people signed up as volunteers for their preferred charities, and nearly 250 goods have been pledged.

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 or (701) 780-1107.
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