Giving Hearts Day: 24-hour fundraiser to benefit charities across southwest North Dakota
Local Non-Profit organizations set to receive critical financial support for programs and services
DICKINSON — On February 9th, Giving Hearts Day will unite the entire state of North Dakota in a 24-hour fundraising drive aimed at benefiting Badlands Ministries of Medora, Benedictine Living Community of Dickinson, Best Friends Mentoring of Dickinson, Camp ReCreation of Richardton, Jacobson Memorial Hospital Care Center of Elgin, Sunrise Foundation of Bowman, USpire ND of Dickinson and the West River Health Services Foundation of Hettinger among others.
Since its launch in 2008, citizen philanthropists have helped raise approximately $138 million.
Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker expressed his support, saying it’s a wonderful event while encouraging community members to show their support for the non-profit organizations that are changing lives and helping those in need on the Western Edge.
“It's a great day that highlights the need for local individuals to give to their favorite charities," Decker said. "Sometimes in a community you need all these volunteer organizations to fulfill a certain need, be it monetarily or volunteering your time.”
One of the charities on the list is Home on the Range, a therapeutic working ranch located in Sentinel Butte, N.D. that serves abused and wayward children between the ages of 12 to 19.
Executive Director Laura Feldmann said the trauma many of these young people experience strains their ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Camp counselors do a lot of animal therapy with horses and dogs to help troubled adolescents rebuild what’s been broken in their lives.
“A 1,200 pound mare is pretty hard to argue with. Dogs giving their unconditional love is usually a new experience. We’re also a working cattle ranch.” Feldmann explained. “So the kids are involved in learning all kinds of ranch work and chores.”
Feldmann added that the ranch offers a range of activities, including manual labor and group projects, to help the children build skills and teamwork. She notes that Giving Hearts Day is crucial to their operations and expressed gratitude to the donors.
"It's one of our biggest fundraisers, and we use all that money for programming,” she said.
The ranch was started by Fr. Elwood Cassedy in 1950 after Edward Lievens and his wife donated their 960 acre farm upon hearing about his vision of a country home to reform troubled boys. His plan was successful and in 1990 they began offering their services to girls as well. Feldmann shared that 81% of the girls they admit to the program have been trafficked or sexually exploited.
Another historical non-profit with deep Catholic roots on the Giving Hearts List is the Assumption Abbey in Richardton, N.D. The Abbey needs assistance with mechanical and building repairs. Brother Michael Taffe said it’s a crucial institution, not just for the 40 active monks, but also for those who visit and come on weekend retreats to connect with God and escape the crazy demands of modern life.
“I worry, and this is not just kids. It’s easy to blame the kids, but this is adults and older adults too. We’re not able to be bored anymore. We’re not able to just sit with ourselves, sit outside and watch the sun or sit outside and watch the birds. Our ability to spend more than five minutes doing nothing is really reduced,” Taffe said in a previous interview with The Dickinson Press.
When tourists visit the Abbey, Taffe encourages them to leave their devices in the car.
“My thing was, leave your phone in the car. Take your wife, kids and dog, go walk out on the lawn out there. Just play catch for a while. You don’t have to necessarily be tethered to that. Have that time for each other. Have that time for God. So hopefully, sometimes we can plant seeds that way,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we exist now, is to show people that there’s another way of being. You don’t have be such a slave to technology.”
A third beneficiary is Chasing Wild Horses Advocates, a non-profit that supports the presence of horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The group’s president, Christine Kman, said they’re working hard to protect these majestic creatures.
“We are committed to advocating for a wild horse management plan and protection for these unique wild horses that call TRNP home,” Kman stated in an email to The Press. “We are fighting for a management plan that is guided by science especially when it comes to decisions regarding the removal of horses and the administration of birth control.”
For more information, visit givingheartsday.org.