Gifts of Hope image

The Gifts of Hope initiative helps businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anyone interested in helping struggling businesses in Crawford County will have a chance to do just that today (Tuesday, March 24) at 5 p.m.

“In light of current events, last week we were trying to figure out the best way to help our at-risk businesses and pull the community together to help support them – especially the small and locally-owned businesses that have limited cash reserves during this difficult time,” said Evan Blakley, executive director of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County.

Since a week ago, the CDC has been promoting the purchase, and holding, of gift cards with businesses that local residents like to frequent, but can’t at present.

“We wanted to pull that concept together into more of a happening,” Blakley said. “The chamber is used to holding events, which is something we can’t do in these times, but we can still hold virtual events.”

Last Friday, the CDC launched an initiative called “Gifts of Hope.”

“The concept is to encourage locals to purchase gift cards that are ideally held and then used later after things get a little easier for our businesses,” he said.

The CDC found sponsors in the larger, more stable businesses that are currently less impacted by current events.

Individual sponsors have also responded.

“We’re asking the sponsors to provide a $10 bonus on each gift card that we sell,” Blakley said.

“A resident can go onto our Square store and purchase between one and five gift cards at $20 each, and then our local sponsors add a $10 bonus on each gift card or certificate.”

Individuals may purchase gift cards for any business in Crawford County.

The virtual event may be attended from any internet connection.

“At the time of checkout, they type in the name of the business they would like to purchase these gift certificates or gift cards from,” Blakley said. “We encourage them to think about the businesses that may be most at risk during these times - businesses that are small, locally-owned, that may have reduced hours or may have their doors closed.”

When the cards are all sold, the CDC will write checks to the businesses that have been listed.

“We will pick up the gift cards and mail them out to the purchasers,” Blakley said. “And, again, we’re asking the purchasers to hold those cards until things get a little bit easier.”

A test run of the concept took place last Friday.

Quality Food Processors stepped up as the sole initial sponsor.

“We limited it to just one to keep it simple and show how it could work,” Blakley said. “We sold out of 50 gift cards in about an hour. That was without any announcement or buildup at all. We just went live with it.”

Many additional sponsors have signed up since Friday.

“As of right now, we have 225 additional cards,” Blakley said. “Assuming all of those sell out, it will be more than $8,000 for our local businesses. We hope by the time we go live on Tuesday we will have many additional sponsors and are able to make an even greater impact.”

The event is a good way for businesses and individuals to team up and sponsor extra dollars that will go back into the community, he said.

“It’s also a great way for our local residents to be encouraged and incentivized to keep buying these gift cards and gift certificates for our small businesses,” Blakley said.

Gifts of Hope will go live at 5 p.m. today at https://bit.ly/2QB1ulz

Visit the CDC Facebook page or contact the CDC at 712-263-5621 for additional information.

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