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Giving Hearts Day yields $30,000 for ND FFA Foundation

Hannah Gress is the North Dakota FFA State Treasurer. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service1 / 3
An FFA decoration in the North Dakota FFA office in Bismarck. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service2 / 3
Aaron Anderson is the North Dakota state FFA advisor. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service3 / 3

BISMARCK — In past Giving Hearts Days, the North Dakota FFA Foundation never brought in more than $23,000 in donations. That made it all the more exciting when donations piled up to $30,000 during the Feb. 8 event.

State FFA Treasurer Hannah Gress says FFA officials and the state officer team received text messages throughout the day of the progress made in donations. While they had hoped for a good result, the final number eclipsed their expectations.

"We weren't necessarily expecting that," she says.

"That money is going to go a long ways to help support the youth that are part of our organization," says state FFA adviser Aaron Anderson.

Giving Hearts Day, hosted by Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation and the Alex Stern Family Foundation, helps charities raise awareness, create ongoing relationships with donors and raise funds during the annual one-day event.

Giving Hearts Day 2018 raised a preliminary figure of $13,122,400 through 63,586 donations to 401 charitable causes, surpassing last year's total of $10.7 million. The event has raised more than $54 million for charities in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota since it began.

The North Dakota FFA Foundation is a nonprofit organization, established in 1980, that supports leadership opportunities and activities in FFA. The donations brought in from Giving Hearts Day will go toward scholarships to help members attend the National FFA Convention and the Washington Leadership Conference and to help keep costs low. Anderson explains that FFA aims to be a program accessible to all students, and funding that keeps student fees and costs low helps with that goal.

Gress says the state officers are excited about what the donations mean for the future of FFA, including their own younger siblings.

"Other members are going to have just as many opportunities as we did," she says.

Prior to this year's event, the North Dakota FFA Foundation had lined up $8,500 in matching donors. That meant that after donors contributed $8,500, the pre-arranged donors kicked in another $8,500 to put the total at $17,000. Then, the donations throughout the day kept going up.

Gress and Anderson say people interested in being matching donors for Giving Hearts Day 2019 should contact the North Dakota FFA Foundation. And Anderson also pointed out that the Foundation is happy to accept donations all year long.

Giving Hearts Day came just more than a week prior to National FFA Week, which runs from Feb. 17-24. As Anderson explains, the observation always falls during the week of George Washington's birthday to honor "the father of our country and one of our first agriculturalists."

Gress and other state officers will be doing chapter visits around the state. She plans to visit her home chapter in Mandan to talk to middle schoolers and get them excited about FFA.

Whether through donations of time or money or by participating in an FFA week event, Anderson urges people to support FFA chapters and members in their communities.

"They're the future of agriculture, the future of our rural communities," he says.