With Valentine’s day happening in the beginning of February, expressing love is a common topic. To capitalize on that mood, many charities take part in Giving Hearts Day on Feb. 9. Giving Hearts Day is an online giving day where charities across North Dakota and western Minnesota receive donations through givingheartsday.org.

All the charities involved create a campaign for Giving Hearts Day to help promote and encourage donors to give to their charity.

Susan Geib, assistant professor of marketing, has been working with students to get them involved in Giving Hearts Day.

“Fourteen Concordia students have been diligently donating their time through co-op internship or volunteerism since October last year to assist charities in developing their Giving Hearts Day campaigns, which enables charities to raise funds,” Geib said.

Each intern is assigned to a different charity to act as a project manager for that charity. All marketing campaigns are designed to encourage new or existing donors to give to one of 350 charities of their choice and have their donations doubled. Students involved have the opportunity to create a marketing campaign and see the results through the funds raised on Giving Hearts Day.

“’I’ve had numerous thank you’s from charities telling me how grateful they are for the expertise these students offer in creative copy, social media posts, analytics, event management, video production, direct mail production, and press conference ideas,” Geib said. “It’s been so delightful to see what a difference they can make in lives less fortunate than ours and to charities who need their expertise to tell their story.”

The importance of Giving Hearts Day is not missed by the students, including intern Anna Erickson, who graduated from Concordia in December of 2016.

“Giving Hearts Day has a huge impact on our community because it is the one day where many of the charities in our area are brought together for one day of giving. Many opportunities are opened up for the

charities due to the generous donations that are received on Giving Hearts Day,” Erickson said.

Erickson is involved with PATH. PATH provides family-based services, and they do work with foster families. Erickson’s main responsibility was to come up with a theme for Giving Hearts Day.

“This year, PATH is working to raise money for their Independent Living program which provides youth who reach independence after foster care with guidance and life skills,” Erickson said. “The theme we settled on is ‘open the door for a young adult reaching independence after foster care.’ So, we want people to picture themselves opening the door for someone who is standing on the welcome mat in front of a door.”

Erickson worked with Sam McDonald to research statistics for foster care children who age out of the system. Erickson found that many of the statistics were startling.

More than 23,000 children will age out of foster care each year, 20 percent will instantly become homeless when they reach the age of 18. Less than three percent of foster kids who age out will earn a college degree. Seventy percent of girls who age out of foster care will become pregnant before the age of 21. Additionally, 25 percent of foster care children who age out of the system will be involved in the justice system within two years of aging out.

“This, to me, makes it clear that we need more support for programs like PATH’s independent living program to get these individuals started in a great track for life and knowing that the program really helps individuals made me more passionate for the cause,” Erickson said.

Junior Sarah Osborne was one of the 14 students involved with Giving Hearts Day. Osborne was working with a nonprofit called Jail Chaplains. The Jail Chaplains team leads 20-plus hours of faith-based programs each week. Programs include; Dad’s in Touch, anger management, bible studies, art, Mom’s in Touch, journaling, knitting and church services.

Osborne helped Jail Chaplains create an online presence as they previously had none.

“Through the word of God, inmates learn practical life skills and are encouraged to accept responsibility for their life choices,” Osborne said.

For the past five years, Jail Chaplains have teamed up with Sandy’s Donuts to sell red velvet donuts on Giving Hearts Day. For every one dozen donuts sold, a portion of the proceeds went to Jail Chaplains.

“This year Sandy’s Donuts sold out of donuts quickly after 285 dozen red velvet donuts were distributed. Other people also donated to Jail Chaplains online on the Giving Hearts Day website,” Osborne said. “Jail Chaplains surpassed the donations from last year, and we were so blessed with the amount of generosity of the community.”

The charities aren’t the only ones benefitting from the Giving Hearts Day experience, though. Students who are involved also recognize the benefits that they have received because of their involvement.

“Being involved in Giving Hearts Day opened many doors for me,” Erickson said. “I’ve learned so much throughout the process and gained valuable experiences.”

 

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