Grant County Combined Appeal Starts 2016 Campaign
The Grant County Combined Appeal started its 2016 campaign and its 55th year of People Helping People in Grant County. The goal for 2016 is $170,000 – the same as last year.
Seventeen organizations requested funds this year – two less than 2015. According to Kerry Fish committee organizer, “The dollar amount of the requests was higher this year, but fewer organizations are needing assistance. The amount is adjusted every year based on requests and we scrutinize each dollar before setting our goal.”
Fifteen Pacesetter businesses play a huge part in the campaign. “These businesses generate 75-80% of the dollars raised,” Fish said. “At least one representative from each of these businesses attends the monthly meetings and is instrumental in raising funds. The businesses commit to at least $1,000 and do fun things to raise funds internally – dress up/down days, match donations, and employee incentives. We could not raise the amount of money we do without these businesses.”
Pacesetter businesses include: Poet Biorefining, Great Western Bank, Valley Queen Cheese, First Bank and Trust, Big Stone Therapies, Milbank Hospital and Clinic, Milbank School District, State Auto, United Hardware, Windwater Suites, Otter Tail Power Company, Milbank Community Foundation, Dakota Granite, Gesswein Motors, and Montage. Fish also encourages any interested business to step forward and become a Pacesetter.
A challenge this year is one of the Pacesetter businesses is unable to contribute an employee match like in the past. “That will affect our dollars,” Fish stated. “It is not a local change, but corporate-wide.”
Despite challenges every year, Combined Appeal continues to thrive “Combined Appeal touches such a large number of people,” stated Craig Wellnitz of the Milbank Community Foundation. “All of these groups are so passionate about what they do.”
Organizations expected to benefit from the 2016 Combined Appeal campaign are: The Grant County Child Protection Team, The Salvation Army, Northeast Glacial Lakes Red Cross, the Milbank Ball Diamond Association, Milbank Area Community Tennis Association (MACTA), Milbank Area Youth Assistance (MAYA), Unity Square Recreation Programs, Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership, Grant County Heart/Diabetes Fund, Grant County ARC, Milbank Out of School Time (OST) program, Milbank Boy Scout Troop 45, Imagination Library, Unity Square Financial Scholarship Program, the Milbank Area Lions Swim Team (MALST), ICAP 60’s Plus Dining Program, and Milbank Community Transit.
“Your donations help support and maintain these 17 organizations in Grant County,” Wellnitz stated. “The sky is not the limit, though. We hold the groups accountable, but do what we can to keep those programs running for the benefit of everyone in the county.”
“That is the best part about Combined Appeal – every single penny stays in Grant County,” said Fish. “The money reaches Big Stone City to Marvin, Stockholm, and Strandburg – every corner of the entire county.”
Donations can also be earmarked for a specific program. “If you want your dollars to go to the community bus, the foundation makes sure your money goes directly to that program,” Fish explained. “We have exceeded our goal the past two years and the excess money also stays here. We created a reserve account, but once that reserve is full, the excess dollars go directly back to these organizations. Combined Appeal is a well run machine.”
The campaign runs during October and November. “By the second week of December, we take a look at how much money has been raised. If we are short of our goal, then we review each request and determine how much we are going to be able to give.”
“People from Grant County are so generous,” Fish said. There are many touching, tear-jerking testimonials to prove this. Just last week, an unusual donation was made to start the campaign. Longtime Otter Tail Power Company employee, Royal Sprung, made a considerable donation. He grew up in the Corona area and was transferred to North Dakota 31 years ago. He retired in April and had the option of a retirement party or donating the money to a charity of his choice. “Royal chose to donate to Combined Appeal,” Fish said. “He hasn’t lived here for 31 years, but still feels as if this area is his home. His mother uses several of the organizations funded through Combined Appeal and Sprung hopes those groups can continue to help people for many years.”
Click here for your pledge form. Forms may be turned in to Craig Wellnitz with Milbank Community Foundation. His office is located at Unity Square. They can also be dropped off with Kerry Fish at the Valley Queen Cheese Store, or may be mailed to the address listed on the pledge form.
Pictured: Craig Wellnitz and Kerry Fish