Young Easton Grabau of Preston took part in the Give to the Max Day's Drive Through at the Country Inn and Suites on Thursday, Nov. 12. COURTESY OF KARI ODENBRETT
Young Easton Grabau of Preston took part in the Give to the Max Day's Drive Through at the Country Inn and Suites on Thursday, Nov. 12. COURTESY OF KARI ODENBRETT
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Give to the Max Day took place last Thursday, Nov. 12, and this year's Give to the Max Day donations to the Harmony, Preston, Rushford and Spring Valley community foundations exceeded expectations all around.

Last year, the communities saw generous donations totaling just over $29,000. Across the state of Minnesota, donors gave approximately $18 million to their respective foundations and non-profit organizations. This year, the overall total, across the state of Minnesota, is again $18,063,598. To put into perspective the success in the Spring Valley, Harmony, Rushford and Preston communities, close to $70,000 in donations came from these four regions.

Spring Valley

"It is hard to put into words what took place these past 24 hours for the Give to the Max Challenge,” said Sue Kolling from the Spring Valley foundation. “The community foundations of Harmony Area Community Foundation, Preston Area Community Foundation, Rushford Community Foundation and Spring Valley Area Community Foundation raised over $60,000."

Further dividing the total, Spring Valley's final total is $20,800. Harmony Area Community Foundation was overwhelmed by $25,145. Both of these communities topped their original goals by about $5,000 a piece, as did Preston. There, $20,306 was donated on that day and in Rushford, the foundation gathered $3,630.

As evening approached that day, board members of Spring Valley's foundation were blown away by how generous its citizens were in helping the community.

"Words that were repeatedly being said, (were) absolutely amazing, unbelievable, wow, just look at what Fillmore County has done, we live in amazing communities, what generosity, we are so proud of our communities, we knocked it out of the park," Kolling shared. "One of our board members said, 'The strength and compassion of our communities is once again demonstrated in their generosity of giving to our community foundations.’”

Preston

Preston has participated in the Give to the Max Day for four years and, according to Mary Zimmerman, each year the fundraiser keeps expanding. Compared to last year, the community gave over $7,000 more.

This foundation focused on two goals during the 24 hours set aside for Give to the Max, namely raising at least $15,000 and raising the number of donors participating in the day. It was successful on both counts.

"I cannot thank the Preston and Fountain communities enough for their generosity on Give to the Max Day,” Zimmerman said. “I was in awe that day as I watched the total going up hourly — incredible! You can be assured this money will be wisely invested and used for grants for many worthwhile projects and programs now and in the future.”

Harmony

In Harmony, the Harmony Area Community Foundation board members had a similar experience of pride in its community and its commitment to continue investing and improving the community now and in the future.

"We are so very proud and grateful to all who supported this event, which far exceeded our expectations. Great job, supporters!" exclaimed Vicky Tribon from the Harmony Area Community Foundation. "The Harmony Area Community Foundation board members are committed to making the Harmony area the best it can be and we thank all of our supporters for entrusting us with their donations."

Rushford

In Rushford, more donations came to the foundation as well for Give to the Max Day. The day served as a launching point for a campaign to bring more awareness of the foundation to the Rushford community in the future.

"We were very pleased and grateful with the response we got on Give to the Max Day," stated Bonnie Prinsen, chair of the Rushford Area Community Foundation. "We've been in existence since 1998. People have gotten used to us being here in the background, but we would like to make an effort to sort of re-introduce ourselves to the community.”

This year's challenge between Harmony and Rushford saw Harmony as the "winner." But even though there is a "winner" and a "loser" in this friendly community fundraising challenge, both won in regards to money given to further their respective communities. However, in this friendly challenge, as the lower fundraiser of the two communities, Rushford's mayor and Prinsen will be arranging a pie delivery to Harmony in the near future.

Communities benefit

In each community, the funds received will continue to allow the foundations to continue doing great work by funding projects and bringing programs to the communities that might not otherwise be possible.

"You can see what collaboration and working together can accomplish. Our sincerest thank you to all who were part of yesterday and each of you making a positive difference in your community. We also want to thank Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, we are all organized under their umbrella, for their support on making this possible," Kolling stated.

In a couple of the communities, banks played a significant role in the day's success as well. All four banks in Spring Valley gave matching donations for the community and F & M Community Bank and Dan Christianson in Preston added a match and bonus incentive to encourage donations.

"It was truly an amazing day for all the foundations — the support shown to all the community foundations was heartwarming," Tribon noted.