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Grant County Combined Appeal Campaign Sets Goal of $185,000 (2017-10-03)
Written by: Holli Seehafer

As the Grant County Combined Appeal embarks on the annual fundraising campaign, co-chairmen Craig Wellnitz and Kerry Fish are optimistic that the organization will hit its goal of $185,000. “When people understand what a great movement this is, and where the money goes, they really give from the heart,” Fish said.

Click the Read More button for the complete story as originally published in the October 4 issue of The Grant County Review.

Combined Appeal acts as a single fundraising vehicle to assist 17 local organizations. All the funds raised during the campaign stay in Grant County to help local citizens of all ages.

The organizations that receive funds fall into the categories of youth, education and health. “We try to give priority to the health-related funds,” Fish commented.

The organizations are Grant County Child Protection Team, The Salvation Army, Northeast Glacial Lakes Red Cross, Milbank Ball Diamond Association, Milbank Area Community Tennis Association, Milbank Area Youth Assistance, Unity Square Recreation Programs, Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership, Grant County Heart/Diabetes Fund, Grant County ARC, Milbank Out of School Time, Milbank Boy Scout Troop 45, Imagination Library, Unity Square Financial Scholarship Program, Milbank Area Lions Swim Team, ICAP 60s Plus Dining Program and Milbank Community Transit.

The process begins in the summer when those organizations prepare and submit requests for funding assistance through the Combined Appeal. The requests are reviewed by a board of representatives from the pacesetter businesses. That board prepares a recommendation that is passed to the executive board of the Milbank Community Foundation (MCF). The MCF board uses that recommendation to set the fundraising goal for the coming year.

“They try to be fair in balancing needs and getting the most reach for the dollars that are received,” Wellnitz noted. “They are careful in approving requests because the board knows it needs to act responsibly and is accountable for the way the donations are spent.”

The newly announced fundraising goal is $15,000 higher than the previous three years, but that is attributed mostly to increases in requests by organizations that are related to health care.

“Medication costs are really up, and funds we designate to the heart/diabetes fund help local residents be financially able to take the medications they are prescribed,” Wellnitz said. He explained that the individuals’ insurance policies pay first, and then in some cases, the heart/diabetes board can help with the co-pay costs for applicants who meet the guidelines.

While there may be an obvious need for assistance with medical costs, the need for other programs may not be as easy to spot. The Community Transit bus may be an example that people aren’t familiar with. The transit bus serves all ages, carrying preschoolers to and from their classes, and carrying senior citizens to and from the grocery store or clinic. “The Community Transit provided more than 18,000 rides in a six-month period, so there is a real need for that service,” Fish said. “But people don’t think about it unless they’ve used it, or their children or parents have used it.” 

Assistance to some of the other programs help youth become involved in activities that can help keep them engaged in the community, organizers say. “It helps them make friends and be involved in activities with caring adult volunteers as role models. It helps the whole community in the long run,” Fish noted.

The fundraising campaign began Tuesday, September 26, with the Small Business Blitz. Representatives of each recipient organization teamed with youth who participate in those activities to canvas the local businesses. While there, they explained the programs and collected donations or pledges for future donations.

Many of the pacesetter businesses have fundraising opportunities among the staff or for the public to participate. The pacesetters are Big Stone Therapies, Dakota Granite, First Bank & Trust, Gesswein Motors, Great Western Bank, Milbank Area Hospital/Avera Health and Milbank Medical Center, Milbank Community Foundation, Milbank Schools, Montage, Otter Tail Power Company, Poet Biorefining, State Auto Insurance, United Hardware, Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Grant County Review, KMSD Radio and Valley Shopper/Midland Publishing.

Members of the public can donate now through the end of November to help reach this year’s goal. Donations can be mailed to or dropped off at the Milbank Community Foundation inside Unity Square at 904 East 4th Avenue, Milbank, SD 57252. For additional donating options, contact Wellnitz at 605-432-9000 or craig@milbankcf.org.

“We know that increasing the goal is asking a lot, but the people in this community have such passion and compassion, that we are hopeful we will reach this year’s goal,” Fish concluded.

~Holli Seehafer, Grant County Review





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