Created: 12/09/2013 5:53 PM KSTP.com
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It started in 1941, when the newly-created Hormel Foundation made its first donation -- ten dollars, to "Ducks Unlimited".
More than 70 years later, the tradition continues. And while the numbers have changed dramatically, the Foundation's mission has not.
"This is a day the Hormel Foundation looks forward to every year," said the Foundation’s Gary Ray.
And it's not just the Foundation that looks forward to the announcement in mid-December.
"For the last 34 years it's been Christmas come early at Cedar Valley," said Jim Mueller at Cedar Valley Services in Austin.
The Hormel Foundation will give $6.1 million dollars in grants to 28 non-profit organizations in the Austin area next year. Those organizations range from the United Y and the YMCA to the Salvation Army, Austin public schools, the city of Austin -- and the principal recipient, the Hormel Institute.
"Everything Cedar Valley does is touched by the Foundation," said Jim Mueller at Cedar Valley Services. Cedar Valley provides work and activities for people with disabilities, and in recent years has received about $170,000 dollars annually.
"This year we'll receive about $60,000 dollars from the foundation, but we've already received 100-thousand dollars for each of three years for our building addition and remodeling," Jim Mueller explained.
And without that money: "We would do with less. Our vehicles would run a little bit longer, we wouldn’t have some of the equipment we have that assists individuals in working, so we wouldn’t have so many people working, we wouldn’t have some of the programs that we have.”
"It's just about helping the community and using our investments to help the community," the Foundation’s Gary Ray told us. And it’s the investments that drive the donations ... the grant money comes from dividends the Foundation earns from stock it owns in the Hormel foods corporation.
"And so every year Hormel increases the dividend it's an opportunity for the charitable organizations to receive more funding each year," Gary Ray explained.
Through 2013, the Foundation has given $98 million dollars to the Austin area since its inception more than 70 years ago.
But even then, the goal of the Foundation was clear
"It was all about helping the charitable organizations in Austin, Minnesota," Gary Ray said.