Giving Hearts Day

McKenzie Conzemius and Erin Ovsak for St. Mary’s School, Karla Littke and Joanna Etzler for Valley Lake Boy’s Home, and Mindy Shultz for Jessy’s Toy Box participated in Giving Hearts Day.

Since 2008, nearly 500 charities across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota have held a 24-hour event to collect donations on the second Thursday of February each year. Thursday, Feb. 13 was this year’s Giving Hearts Day.

“It’s become this really great day for non-profits to hop onto this platform of giving,” Erin Ovsak, St. Mary’s School volunteer, said.

Volunteers from St. Mary’s School, Jessy’s Toy Box and Valley Lake Boy’s Home (VLBH) gathered at the Breckenridge Community Center to collect donations and hand out cinnamon rolls, caramel rolls, orange juice and coffee.

Donations are accepted until midnight on Thursday and can be done online at The minimum donation is only $10, McKenzie Conzemius, St. Mary’s School volunteer, said.

“You can go to the Giving Hearts Day website and search for a specific charity or a cause you want to donate to and just do it online,” VLBH Executive Director Joanna Etzler said.

While this is the second year that St. Mary’s has participated in Giving Hearts Day, it is the first year that Jessy’s Toy Box and VLBH joined the 24-event.

“You have a chance to collect donations but also tell people about your organization and speak with them about what our organization does and then they can also learn about other non-profits in the area like this,” Ovsak said. “Some people hold art shows are chili contests to bring people in.”

Giving Hearts Day is co-sponsored by Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation and Alex Stern Family Foundation. Additionally, the Dakota Medical Foundation offers matching funds to a limited number of health-related nonprofits.

The majority of matching dollars are raised by the nonprofit from their own generous matching-donor. For organizations to be involved in this day, they must find a donor who is willing to match their donations by a minimum of $4,000.

“That’s what makes this day so special. There’s a carrot in front of your giving,” Ovsak said. “I always say ‘the greyhound doesn’t run unless the rabbit is in front of it.’ So when you donate $25, it’s actually like you are donating $50.”

Since Giving Hearts Day was founded in 2008, over $70 million has been raised for those charities who have participated in the day-long event.

“Even though it’s not $70 million for any single charity, it’s a huge financial impact in the area and you are always so surprised about how generous people and people like to give,” Ovsak said. “It feels great actually.”

For more information on other local and regionals charities or to donate, visit

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