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Generosity Grows: Planting The Seeds Of Giving

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Dr. Sue Mathison and her son Grant share a unique tradition each Giving Hearts Day.

Much like passing down family recipes or heirlooms, we can also pass down a tradition of philanthropy to our children.

Every Giving Hearts Day, Dr. Sue Mathison and her son Grant come to the Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) campus to take part in this special day. When Grant was young, he soaked up the spirit of the day and enjoyed toting a balloon around. Grant is now 11, and while he still delights in balloons, he and his mother also enjoy working together to pick charitable organizations to which they donate.

Dr. Mathison has been on the board at DMF for about 12 years, and it’s become a very important part of her life. “When Giving Hearts Day was just a baby, I brought my baby. It’s amazing to see how Giving Hearts Day has grown and how Grant and I have grown along with it,” she shared. The first years of Giving Hearts Day were more strictly focused on online giving, and there wasn’t the same extravaganza at the DMF campus as there is today.

A decade later, Dakota Medical Foundation‘s building opens up each February for Giving Hearts Day, and everybody is welcome to stop by to make a donation. The festivities of the day have grown each year along with Grant, making it more engaging and exciting.

Over the years, he has seen first-hand the community’s growing excitement about generous giving. “Grant has always enjoyed going; they always have a few extra balloons for him. He really enjoys it as a celebration, but as he’s gotten older, he and I have talked about the groups we want to give to.”

Last year, about 350 organizations were involved in Giving Hearts Day. Dr. Mathison shared that on Giving Hearts Day, she and her son sat at a laptop at DMF and went through every single charity before making their donations. “We looked at every single website, and we gave to lots of different charities. We gave smaller amounts to some and larger amounts to our favorites,” she said. “It was so fun for him to see all the different organizations throughout the whole state and the good things that people do for children, health, pets, the homeless or the hungry.”

In going through these lists of organizations, Grant learns about the joy of giving, and also to be grateful for the things that he has. “He’s always kind of had a give-back mindset, and I think this experience has really enhanced it for him,” said Dr. Mathison.

Impact Institute Director Scott Holdman said, “We’ve seen families engage in different levels. It starts a path of finding charities and caring about them.” Dr. Mathison explained that one of the wonderful things about Giving Hearts Day is that it celebrates participation over amount. If you have $10 to give, you can participate and be a generous giver. “Kids are our future, and we can expose them to this joyful way to give. I think kids are inherently curious and inherently generous if we teach them about it in the right way,” said Dr. Mathison.

Making Giving Hearts Day a family tradition allows children of all ages to be introduced to the delight of giving. It instills a sense of gratitude for what they have while also showing them how they can use their abundance for good. Scott shared, “When it comes to generations and engaging and giving, they do give very differently and usually have a different interest of what they want to give to. It’s not a granddad saying ‘I supported this organization, and you will, too.’ It’s more about instilling, ‘people like us do things like this.'”

The desire to pass on a generous spirit in children is important. For this reason, Giving Hearts Day provides a program where you can sponsor a classroom. This program invites donors to purchase a $10 Giving Hearts Day gift card for each student in a class. Dr. Mathison is excited to take part in this opportunity in 2019, saying, “We are going to sponsor Grant’s classroom so that each child gets a Giving Hearts Day gift card that they can share with their parents. Hopefully, the families will go online together and decide where they want to give that gift card, and then maybe give some more.”

“Kids are our future, and we can expose them to this joyful way to give.” – Dr. Sue Mathison

At only 11 years old, Grant has the beginnings of a bright future ahead of him. Through continual involvement in Giving Hearts Day, he can learn more about the meaning behind it all and why our community celebrates giving. Dr. Mathison has enjoyed this tradition with her son, saying, “It’s fun to plant some seeds and see where they grow.”

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Written by Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin is the editor of Fargo Monthly. She hails from Huntsville, Alabama, but graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a degree in Fashion Communications. When she's not in the office, she is busy taking care of her small zoo of pets, cooking up vegetables, or listening to true-crime podcasts.

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