Giving Hearts Day beneficiaries give thanks

Thank you for donating to giving hearts day.

Appreciative of the successful 16th annual Giving Hearts Day on Thursday, Feb. 9, charities based in or with ties to the Southern Red River Valley are sharing their thanks and plans for the money pledged.

In January, Daily News named 22 charities either based in or with some operations in Richland County, North Dakota, and Wilkin County, Minnesota. While representatives from all locally-participating charities could not be reached for comment by press time, across the board joy was expressed by those who spoke with Daily News.

“Due to the overwhelming support from people in support of Giving Hearts Day and our nursing program at NDSCS, we were able to raise $15,000,” North Dakota State College of Science Alumni Foundation Executive Director Kim Nelson said. “We’re very thankful for all that you, the supporters, have done to move our project forward.”

Blake Peterson is Red River Human Services Foundation’s community services director for Wahpeton. An exact amount of money pledged to Wahpeton was still being determined as of Tuesday, Feb. 14. Peterson was able to say that several donors specifically earmarked their “very generous” gifts for Red River Human Services in Wahpeton.

“It’s great. It’s going to allow us to sustain and, in some cases, expand our services,” Peterson said.

Sandy Youngquist, Benedictine Living Community, explained how the $3,798 pledged to her organization would be utilized. While the money raised was only 73.2% of BLC’s goal, it still is considered a generous, appreciated gift.

“We’ve got a great group of supporters and anything we receive is appreciated,” Youngquist said. “Donations made this year will go for new dining room tables and chairs for our skilled dining room and in basic care. Thank you again.”

Southeast Senior Services, meanwhile, reported that approximately $11,250 had been pledged to date as of Tuesday, Feb. 14. Seniors are not the only ones who will benefit from Giving Hearts Day contributions. Principal Kaja Kaste, St. John’s School in Wahpeton, said $9,100 was raised on Feb. 9, with a grand total of $12,100.

“We really count on donations to continue our mission and continue to do great things for our students,” Kaste said. “These donations make a difference.”

Principal Tom Haire, St. Mary’s School in Breckenridge, Minnesota, agrees. The school had a goal of $6,000. It received $8,790.

“Giving Hearts Day always comes on the heels of our Steak and Wine Dinner, Dance and Benefit Auction. People give and give and give and we’re always wondering if the two events will only reach the same people,” Haire said. The money pledged to St. Mary’s will, simply put, carry out the school’s mission.

“We want to continue knowing, loving and serving the Lord in all that we do,” Haire said. “These donations allow our kids to do their service projects. It pays for our curriculum. It supports our school and its mission.”

The Northern Lights Council, Boy Scouts of America, received $34,400 from Giving Hearts Day, including a $10,000 matching grant. A total of 164 individuals gave funds that will be used for projects and necessities including camp maintenance, training of participating adults and camp memberships for youth.

"Giving Hearts dollars help keep summer camp programs at our camp properties affordable," Prairie Fire District Executive Brenda Thomson said. "They provide for upkeep at our camp facilities so programs are available year-round. Thousands of dollars are awarded annually for camp scholarships. Those are some of a few of our priorities."

Chahinkapa Zoo Director Kathy Diekman was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Shortly after Giving Hearts Day, she publicly thanked donors.

“Zoo friends near and far were well represented on the GHD platform,” Diekman wrote. “The donations will be used for animal care and operations. With your generosity, we are able to continue our mission while offering a superior zoological experience for our visitors. We are equally appreciative to the new volunteers who registered on the site and we will be reaching out to you soon.”

Becky DeVries is client services coordinator for Three Rivers Crisis Center in Wahpeton. More than $4,400 was pledged to the center on Giving Hearts Day, which DeVries considers especially impressive for a first-time participant.

“Valley Lake Boys Home invited us and other non-profits to have a booth at their annual GHD open house,” DeVries said. “This year, it was at Hughes Shelter. It was nice to be able to chat with community members and share more about our services.”

Three Rivers Crisis Center received several pledges from individuals outside of its region. This was possible thanks to Giving Hearts Day’s charity database, DeVries said.

“We will definitely continue to participate in GHD!” she said.

In January, Daily News reported about Gate City Bank’s preparations for awarding a record-breaking $100,000 to one organization, as well as $5,000 each to five nonprofits. The winners included Creative Care for Reaching Independence (CCRI), which “exists to enhance and enrich the lives and learning of people with disabilities.”

“It’s such an honor to be chosen to receive this incredible donation. I don’t know how to describe it; I don’t think I was breathing!” said Anna Larson, CCRI’s development and communications director. “Gate City Bank has been a partner of ours for a long time, and we’re so grateful to them for making our community better by getting behind all Giving Hearts Day nonprofits. There were so many great charities that were part of the bank’s nomination contest.”

Beneficiaries from Gate City Bank also included CHI Friendship, Red River Dance & Performing Company, Valley Senior Living, A Moment of Freedom and Love Your Buns.

This year’s Giving Hearts Day donors included Julie Carlson. Carlson, an elementary school counselor with the Wahpeton Public School District, raised $1,500 for Richland-Wilkin Kinship. The money was received from the sale of her “jules” earrings at businesses including Hairetage Hallmark, Breckenridge Drug and Dakota Coffee Co.

“One-hundred percent of the proceeds go to Kinship,” Carlson said. “It’s my third year doing it and each year, it’s grown. This is a fun way to use my talents and love of creating for my favorite non-profit. I’m biased, of course, because I’m on the Kinship board.”

For more information, visit the Facebook page “jules — handcrafted leather earrings.” Kinship Director Rebekah Christensen is overjoyed for the more than $14,000 raised through Giving Hearts Day pledges and matching grants.

“We were just blown away by the generosity of this community,” Christensen said. “The support they gave is going to amplify youth mentoring in every way for us.”

Article written by Frank Stanko for Wahpeton Daily News on February 16, 2023.