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Personal Connections and the Benefits of Giving Fuel RDO Team Members on Giving Hearts Day

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About 30 minutes outside the city of Fargo, ND is the small, tight-knit farming community of Arthur. Savanna Hill, Aftermarket Sales Support Specialist at RDO Equipment Co.’s Field Support Office (FSO) has fond memories spending time at her father’s farm in Arthur, most of which revolve around her grandmother.

From days spent cooking and relaxing at home to delivering meals to her father as he worked long days in the field, Savanna cherished her time at the farm and spending as much time with her as she could with her grandmother. So when it came time to transition her grandmother into hospice care, Savanna was determined to continue that bond.

“My grandmother was my best friend, biggest supporter, and even recently, my daily lunch date,” Savanna said with a smile.

About two and a half years ago, Savanna’s grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. While she was able to manage the disease for several months living at a nursing home, she soon was put on hospice care. Hospice of the Red River Valley, a local nonprofit that provides end-of-life-care to patients and their families, stepped in to help.

Savanna credits Hospice of the Red River Valley, not only with offering the best, most compassionate care for her grandmother, but with helping Savanna and her family understand and come to terms with the prognosis.

“I admit, when I first found out about her diagnosis, I was in denial,” Savanna recalls. “She had so many good days where she was her normal self, it didn’t seem like she could have an illness.”

As her grandmother’s conditioned worsened, Savanna saw firsthand the bad days that come with dementia. But the good days were made even better by hospice caregivers.

“There was one volunteer who would come to read to my grandma, paint her fingernails, ask about her photos, things like that,” Savanna said. “I appreciated that so much, just her genuine interest in making my grandmother’s days happy. You don’t know how long it’s going to be so each day matters.”

Sadly, Savanna lost her grandmother in January 2020. She had supported Hospice of the Red River Valley with monetary donations in the past, and both last year and this year she began sharing her gifts in honor of her grandmother’s memory.

Savanna’s story is one that demonstrates why supporting a charity matters to so many people. Giving back is something RDO takes to heart, too. The company provides opportunities and encourage for team members give back across the company, through volunteer hours, supply drives, and monetary donations.

In Fargo and at RDO stores throughout the nearby communities, RDO recently supported a unique opportunity for team members to give back to charities close to their hearts: Giving Hearts Day.

What Is Giving Hearts Day?
Held annually in February, Giving Hearts Day started as simple fundraising concept that ties in the ideas of feeling the love for others on Valentine’s Day and sharing the love with charities in the community.

Since it began in 2008, the 24-hour “give-a-thon” has raised more than $110 million for nonprofits across North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Local businesses join the effort by matching donations, helping to make the impact even greater. RDO offers a donation match to encourage team members to participate – team members like Savanna who, this year, made her donation to Hospice of the Red River Valley on Giving Hearts Day to further amplify the impact.

This year, 196 RDO team members donated on Giving Hearts Day. With their dollars and RDO’s matching donations, more than $40,000 was donated to a variety of charities across the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Why RDO’s Support Matters

Because RDO operates on a stakeholder philosophy, RDO Leadership believes it is important the company serves all those who make the business what it is. Communities in which team members work and live are one of those important stakeholders so supporting community efforts like Giving Hearts Day is more than a “to do” on the checklist, it is an extension – a principle – of who RDO is.

Giving Hearts Day offers a way for RDO to support communities but also team members. Choosing where to donate dollars is a personal decision for people. There is a story behind it, like Savanna’s. Here are a few more stories of why RDO team members chose to support charities on Giving Hearts Day.

Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson’s Support
Michael J. Fox is well-known for numerous acting roles in movies and television. He is equally well-known for his long battle with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Michael’s celebrity has created great awareness for the disease and one of its most visible symptoms: shaking.

While the publicity Michael has brought to PD has done wonderful things for research and understanding, it is also one of the reasons why Laura McMartin, Event Coordinator at the Fargo FSO, struggled with her mother’s diagnosis.

“I think when people think of PD, they immediately think of the shaking, the tremors,” she explained. “My mother was diagnosed with very early onset of Parkinson’s so she showed none of that. I think it made it a little harder to accept.”

Also difficult for Laura was that she was still only in high school when her mother was diagnosed. Now, more than 10 years later, her mother is still living independently and managing the disease with medication, physical and mental exercise, and the support of others.

Laura is a proud supporter of a local PD charity, the Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson’s Support. The foundation aims to increase community knowledge, understanding, and support of those affected by PD. A longtime supporter of the foundation, Laura was thrilled to know her donation would go even further thanks to RDO’s matching support on Giving Hearts Day.

“I was already planning to support the foundation and the RDO match just made it that much more impactful,” she said.  

HARVEST HOPE FARM
Would you believe sheep could provide a cure to a deadly genetic disease? Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a terminal genetic disorder, one for which there is no cure and those diagnosed often experience a rapid deterioration in health. But a small farm just outside Moorhead, MN is offering hope, breeding sheep to participate in research to find a cure for HD.

Kevin Grove, Service Operations Manager at RDO in Grand Forks, has a special connection to this farm, HARVEST HOPE FARM. Two members of his wife’s extended family, Jason and Lynn Kotrba, started HARVEST HOPE FARM after losing two family members to HD and realizing they could be part of the solution by raising sheep.

“The Kotrba’s are deeply committed to this cause and have strong values that I’m proud to support,” Kevin said. “I am very happy with the opportunities RDO gives to us, allowing us to donate to local charities.”

In addition, the Kotrba’s built HARVEST HOPE FARM on the belief that children thrive when they have a balance of activities in their life, including time in nature and outdoors. HARVEST HOPE FARM provides a hands-on farm experience to those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to learn about sustainable food resources and environmental stewardship.

Valley Senior Services / Meals on Wheels
In small communities, it is common for senior citizens to enjoy meals and connections at the local senior center. But what about those who cannot leave their homes? Programs like Meals on Wheels, managed in six eastern North Dakota communities through Valley Senior Services, ensure hot, nutritious meals get to those who need them.

Heidi Carlson, Benefits Manager at RDO’s FSO, thinks about her own grandparents, who were healthy enough to take advantage of the opportunity to have meals at their local senior center. And they are a big reason why she donates to Valley Senior Services and volunteers every month to deliver Meals on Wheels. It began as an effort with her RDO coworkers and she has extended it to her family, often bringing her teenage daughter along with her to deliver meals.

“For a lot of the people we visit, it’s a connection to the outside world they may not have every day,” Heidi said, noting that it is more than the meal that matters to the recipient. The relationship and opportunity to see a friendly face makes a difference in their day.

Heidi has participated in Giving Hearts Day every year since RDO became involved. While she has supported several charities, Meals on Wheels is one that is always included in her giving.

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Giving Hearts Day is just one example of how RDO supports team members and communities across the company. Join our communities on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, and follow our blog to stay connected with RDO for stories and videos, as well as general news, events, and what’s happening in our industries. 

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