The Preston area is taking on the Spring Valley area in a community foundation challenge Thursday, Nov. 15.

Taking off on the rivalry between the Falcons and the Knights, or for some the Wolves/Wykats and the Blue Jays, this contest will take place in cyberspace rather than in the gyms. Participants don't have to be athletically inclined, they just have to care about their communities and be willing to show their commitment through donations.

Although it is a friendly rivalry, the stakes are high. The losing team has to show up at the winner's home basketball game between Fillmore Central and Kingsland this winter to present a gift to representatives of the host school.

Although a winner and loser may be designated in this contest, it is really a win-win situation as people in all the communities will benefit in the end.

Thursday, Nov. 15, is the third annual Give to the Max Day, a statewide initiative of Minnesota nonprofit organizations that asks Minnesotans to give to their favorite charities at anytime during the 24 hours on Nov. 15. Last year's Give to the Max Day was considered one of the most successful one-day online fundraising drives in history as it drew 42,569 donors that contributed more than $10 million to the 3,663 participating nonprofit organizations.

The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation and the Preston Area Community Foundation are set up on the online site,, and Spring Valley participated in Give to the Max Day last year, but the two groups decided to make it more fun this year with a challenge that they hope will increase awareness and raise more money.

The idea originated when Sue Kolling, president of the Spring Valley area foundation, visited with Dan Christianson, whose family is the original catalyst for the Preston area foundation, about what a foundation brings to a community. From there, talk turned to the competitive spirit of the communities and how that could be channeled to benefit both communities.

Kolling talked it over with Mitch Lentz, a former star athlete that is now on the Spring Valley foundation board. He was enthusiastic about the idea, noting that during his playing years, Preston never beat Spring Valley, joking that the unblemished record will give him motivation to get his fellow alumni from those years on board.

Kolling then contacted Sheila Craig about a possible challenge and she took it back to her Preston Area Community Foundation board, which supported the idea and, in turn asked Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, the sponsoring organization for both foundations, if it had a possible gift to use as a prize for the group that raises the most money. SMIF had an offer from Miken Sports of Caledonia to donate sports equipment - some high quality bats and shirts - and decided to offer that donation to the school of the winning foundation.

The two thought the rivalry aspect of this will be a fun way to reach out to alumni and community members. Even those people living out of town will likely remember the days when Preston-Fountain and Spring Valley or Wykoff battled on the playing field with dominance shifting back and forth over the years. Those memories combined with this initiative may spur them to contribute to the communities that shaped their early lives.

The rivalry between the foundations is truly friendly, though. The Preston Area Community Foundation started in 1997. When the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation, which includes the communities of Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander, considered forming two years ago, Wayne Drieir, an active member of the Preston foundation, provided guidance as he met with the Spring Valley group to provide insight on the process.

The two foundations have similar goals - to promote civic engagement and provide opportunities to enhance the quality of life by creating community partnerships.

For those interested in participating, log into and in the upper right corner type in the community foundation you want to support. Use your credit or debit card to donate securely. You will receive an email with your tax receipt. A total of 100 percent of the contributions go directly to fund local causes.

The online site keeps track of donations during the day and an ongoing tally will be available to view. By the end of the 24 hours, the foundation with the most money raised will be declared a winner.

GiveMN has raised more than $33 million for more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations in Minnesota since its debut in 2009. During this special day, GiveMN also provides incentives to encourage participation. In addition to prize grants for the top nonprofit organizations, every hour an individual donor will be randomly chosen to receive an additional $1,000 given to the charity that received the donor's original donation. In addition to the 24 $1,000 incentives called golden tickets, a $10,000 golden ticket will be randomly given at 11:59 p.m.

Although the two foundations likely aren't big enough to qualify for the overall prizes, the random drawings present opportunities for donors to provide even more money for their foundation of choice. Last year, some Spring Valley donors went online often to increase their chances of winning.

However competitive the giving gets, the end result is the lives of people in all the communities will be enriched through the contributions to the foundations, which use the donations to address the needs of the communities.

The Preston foundation has contributed grants to projects such as the new tennis courts for the city, schoolhouse and rail car restoration for the Preston Historical Society, a new baseball scoreboard for Fillmore Central and grants to the National Trout Center.

The Spring Valley foundation has contributed money to the Gateway Academy summer school at Kingsland, Music in the Park for Spring Valley and roof repair at the Wykoff Community Center.

This unusual competition that pits the Falcons and Bluejays vs. the Knights, Wolves and Wykats may last just one day, but the track record of the two foundations shows that the results will last far longer as they continue to support their respective communities.