Tim Penny Opinion-Editorial: Thanksgiving

Tim Penny, President/CEO
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
November 21, 2014

Thanks and Giving

This time of year, there is one thing on many of our minds: food. Here at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), we are especially interested in food, as we just wrapped up the first annual FEAST Festival and Tradeshow in Rochester in early November.

This event was the region's largest local foods showcase of its kind, and we're proud of the success in its very first year. Approximately 2,000 people attended the event, between Sunday's Festival and Monday's Tradeshow for buyers and sellers. What this confirms is something we at SMIF already know: local food is vitally important to our region-with huge potential for future growth.

In the last few years there has been growing consumer interest in where our food is grown. We have seen it in the marketing campaigns of "Minnesota Grown" or "Minnesota Made"; increasing farm-to-table efforts at restaurants, local schools, and colleges in our region, as well as increasing participation in farmer's markets, community garden memberships, and food co-ops. This industry has always been an economic driver for our region, and SMIF plans to expand support of these entrepreneurs and their endeavors.

While food is part of our Thanksgiving celebration, we also take time to reflect on the things for which we are thankful. As we count our own blessings, many of us are also inspired to give and share with others. At SMIF, we are thankful to our many donors-and it is through their generosity that we are able to give back to the communities we serve.

In mid-November, our Foundation and thousands of other nonprofits across Minnesota participated in Give to the Max Day-a special day for Minnesotans to come together to raise millions of dollars for nonprofits in a 24-hour timeframe. By engaging as many donors as possible to give to their favorite Minnesota charities in one day, Give to the Max Day showcases Minnesota's unparalleled generosity.

Four of the 24 Community Foundation's which are affiliated with SMIF challenged each other to raise the most money for their foundation on Give to the Max Day. Friendly rivals, Spring Valley Area Community Foundation and Preston Community Foundation, had a rematch of last year's challenge, as did Rushford Community Foundation and Harmony Area Community Foundation. Scholastic Books and Miken Sports generously donated a variety of children's books and sports equipment to the winning communities.

Altogether, these four community foundations raised a total of $26,570 on Give to the Max Day! It was an impressive day of fundraising for all who participated, and we were excited to watch the competitions as communities rallied around their local foundations. This year, the winners of the two challenges are Preston with a total of $12,965 and Rushford with a total of $3,105. Ultimately, however, all four communities are winners, as they significantly increased their financial resources to support their respective communities.

As this year is wrapping up and you spend time reflecting on what you are thankful for, we hope you'll consider a year-end gift to a worthwhile organization. We know SMIF is only one of many organizations working to improve the economic prosperity and community vitality of our region. Whether by supporting SMIF or other worthy groups, it is our hope that you choose to get involved locally and support efforts that positively impact your community now and into the future.

If you would like learn more about how your dollars support SMIF's work locally, please feel free to contact me at timp@smifoundation.org, or visit our website at www.smifoundation.org and click on Donate.

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