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Margaret's Musings: Giving - why do it?

Whether you have deep pockets or just a little change rolling around, giving and volunteering in America, and particularly in Hudson, is a tradition. It is one that is not shared worldwide.

Sunday night it was my turn to see the fruits of volunteer labor. For the last three years I have co-chaired a committee that organizes Autumn in the Valley, an annual fundraiser for the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center. Admittedly, I found myself involved because my husband has been on the board of directors for over a decade, not unlike three of my fellow committee members whose spouses or significant others are also on the board, including Hudsonite Mary Clohisy.

We all pitched in to help make the event happen. We were joined by other board members and staff from the center, not to mention the CNC volunteers who created fresh floral centerpieces and spruced the place up. CNC members also donated silent auction items and solicited donations from area businesses which contributed to the evening's success.

Then there are the folks, who without their help, the event - while being fun for all - would not make any significant money. That would be our sponsors; those individuals, businesses or corporations with "deep pockets."

It is one of the best things about our society. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, you can help and make a difference. But sometimes we forget that many of the benefits we have in Hudson, like the YMCA and The Phipps Center for the Arts, are dependent upon deep pockets, either through annual fundraising or grants from foundations established by successful individuals or corporations.

In other words, the person or corporation you are complaining about might just be the one who has made it possible to enjoy the significantly higher quality of life we enjoy in Hudson.

All year I hear about various fundraisers that my fellow committee members go to, from the Minnesota Zoo to Regions Hospital. It is where we get new ideas that will make our event a unique experience and help support other worthy causes.

This year, anyone involved in fundraising, grant writing or similar pursuits, knows that the economic downturn has had an impact on everything, including the funds and foundations organizations like the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center depend on for survival.

So Sunday afternoon as we put the finishing touches on the silent auction, dining tables and swept up the last of the soil that slipped out of the display garden on to the pavement, we took a deep breath and hoped that we could again have a successful event. As the tent filled with nearly 200 people willing to help out the nature center, it was clear they would have fun doing it. It was also clear that the nature center, with guidance from fiscally responsible board members, would survive to follow the mission of preserving land, 723 acres of it, on both sides of the river and the education of area youth about nature and wildlife.