Valentine's Day, which always falls on Feb. 14, is traditionally a holiday intended for showering affection on your loved ones, friends, classmates and occasionally, even coworkers. This year, however, it also offers an opportunity to "show the the love" to some of your favorite local nonprofits.

Together with hundreds of other nonprofit organizations in North Dakota and western Minnesota, 10 local nonprofits will be participating in today's Giving Hearts Day (GHD). Now in its 12th year, Giving Hearts Day is a 24-hour online fundraising event hosted by Dakota Medical Foundation and Impact Institute of Fargo. Contributions of $10 or more will be matched by DMF and/or other generous donors.

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Local participants A Place to Belong, American Cancer Society, Becker County Developmental Achievement Center, Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, Compassion House, Essentia Health St. Mary's Foundation, Friends of Tamarac, Health Resources, Lakes Crisis & Resource Center and Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics are excited to participate in the event and share their missions with local supporters during this special fundraising campaign.

"Donations must be a minimum of $10," says Daneen Bellefeuille of A Place to Belong.

"And to participate, each nonprofit is responsible for securing its own match," added DelRae Chivers of Lakes Crisis & Resource Center

"The minimum match is $4,000," added Nancy Fischer of the Friends of Tamarac - though not all of the match has to come from a single donor, she added.

Though the 10 local participants have joined together in a collaborative to help pool resources for marketing and raising awareness of GHD, each organization has its own purpose for the funds that will be raised:

• A Place to Belong will raise funds to support our mission to provide a safe, supportive environment for persons with a serious mental illness who are working on their recovery while living in the community. "We provide voluntary recreational, social, educational, and community service opportunities." Bellefeuille noted. "Major roadblocks of mental illness are isolation, loneliness, and stigma. We strive to provide a sense of belonging and break through the barriers."

• The American Cancer Society will use funds raised to support its mission to save lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer. They do this important work through research, education, advocacy, and services to cancer patients and their families.

• Becker County Developmental Achievement Center: All contributions will be placed towards the DAC's bathroom renovation project for the clients with disabilities in the day training and habilitation program. The interior bathroom stall walls were removed some time ago to better assist clients with disabilities and meet their bathroom needs. Due to the cost of the replacement of more suitable bathroom stall walls, the interior bathroom stall walls were replaced with curtains. "Please become our giving heart and help fund our much needed bathroom renovation project!" said the DAC's Melissa Hoffman.

• The Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes will use funds raised to support the academic and social success of more than 500 children in Becker County. Proceeds will help the club provide exceptional mentors, fun activities, healthy meals and snacks, academic support, and engaging programs to local children each day.

• Compassion House: "This year, as we continue to battle against addiction, our organization will use (GHD) funds raised to make updates to the office equipment the kitchen and client rooms, such as bed frames, mattresses, dressers and other furnishings," said Compassion House director Melissa Crow.

• Essentia Health St. Mary's Foundation: "Breast cancer is scary," said Essentia's GHD coordinator, Rebecca Kent. "When you donate to this important project, you make it a little less difficult for women right here in our community. Our goal is to expand treatment rooms, implement a breast navigator program, and purchase a breast MRI coil. Help us improve the breast health care that we provide. Help us stop breast cancer from taking so many lives. Give today."

• The Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is a group of volunteers dedicated to providing environmental education programs at Tamarac to thousands of school children each year. "Our goal is to get children unplugged from technology and outdoors to learn," said Fischer. Your gifts will provide journals, pencils, magnifying glasses and many other supplies needed for each child that participates in our environmental education program. We are developing tomorrow's nature stewards that will advocate and protect places like the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge for future generations to enjoy."

• Health Resources will use funds raised to support pregnant and parenting families by providing free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, education and assistance to help remove the barriers of making life affirming choices.

• The Lakes Crisis & Resource Center will use the funds raised to sustain its Children's Services and Kinship Programs for youth throughout the lakes region. "These programs improve the lives of children by providing care and intervention when it is needed most," said Chivers, "and the Kinship Program establishes quality relationships between caring adult mentors and children. Mentoring changes lives!"

• Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics will use the funds raised to support its "Fly Time" program, which offers movement and fitness training for children with special needs. Fly Time provides the opportunity for children to have new experiences with movement and body awareness plus training in balance, agility, strength, and overall fitness.

All 10 participating nonprofits say that pooling their resources in a GHD marketing collaborative has proved to be a positive step toward improving awareness of the event.

"The outreach is 10 fold," says Bellefeuille, adding that they have even gotten several local businesses to use GHD flyers as "bag stuffers" in their grocery, takeout and shopping bags to help promote the event.

"It would be a lot of work for our organizations to tackle alone," added Britton Ramsey of Health Resources. "This makes it a more successful event for everybody."

"It also helps lay a lot of the groundwork for next year," added Chivers, noting that the collaborative has grown substantially since it started a few years ago, when there were just 3-4 local groups participating, and now they have a lot more experience with figuring out how to pool their resources more efficiently.

Since Giving Hearts Day started in 2008, it has grown larger and more successful each year. In 2018 on Giving Hearts Day, 28,044 generous "giving hearts" raised over $13.15 million in just 24 hours. This year, over 450 charities in our region are aiming to rally 50,000 to say "count me" as a Giving Heart for charity; locally, social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #countmeDL in promoting the event.

To support these local nonprofits and make your giving heart count and get your gift matched, simply go to www.givingheartsday.org any time between midnight and 11:59 p.m. today (Thursday, Feb. 14).

Those who prefer to donate using a check or cash can also come to the Washington Square Mall on Thursday, Feb. 14 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to drop off their donations; representatives from all 10 local nonprofits participating in GHD will be on hand to help promote the event, answer questions and take their donations.