Gifts of Hope image

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

“In the first nine rounds of Gifts of Hope we sold 3,010 cards, bringing the total amount of checks written to our local business owners to $90,300,” said Evan Blakley, executive director of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County.

Gifts of Hope is a CDC-initiated program that promotes the purchase of gift cards from local businesses in need of support during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The final round of the program, for the foreseeable future, takes place today (Tuesday, May 19).

“We never would have imagined it would have gotten this far,” Blakley said. “We were excited when we hit $24,000. We thought that was fantastic - and the sponsors and purchasers just kept stepping up for every round.”

Blakley said generous sponsors have made the program possible by adding value to the cards that are sold.

Individuals may purchase between one and five gift cards at $20 each.

The sponsors provide a $10 bonus for each gift card.

Gift cards may be purchased for any business in Crawford County.

Blakley said he would like to push the total amount raised to $100,000 in the final round.

“Round 10 is a nice even number to end on and $100,000 would be a nice even number as well,” he said.

“We need to hit 324 cards to reach our goal and we are still looking for sponsors.”

As of Monday afternoon, sponsors for just 21 more cards were needed to reach the $100,000 mark.

Blakley said individuals should consider purchasing cards for the small, locally-owned businesses that have suffered during the COVID-19 slowdown.

Funds raised typically take less than a week to reach businesses.

With the economy yet to see significant improvement, Blakley asked purchasers not to rush out to redeem the cards.

“Many businesses are just now able to open their doors,” he said. “They have been paying bills despite not being able to make any other revenue.”

The businesses have appreciated the income from the Gifts of Hope program, but the county is not out of the woods yet, Blakley said.

“If you can, don’t look at this as an opportunity, now that things are reopening, to go out into the community and use all the gift cards you purchased because these businesses need to start making revenue again,” he said.

“Think about the businesses; try to get out and support them a little longer with cash and maybe a gift card here and there. If you can, let things pick up for another month or two before you use those cards.”

Most of the cards are good for about a year, but Blakely suggested that purchasers check to see when each expires.

“You have plenty of time to use them for birthday or holiday gifts in the future,” he said. “Maybe tuck them away and just think about using them throughout the year instead of all at once.”

Most will still be good by Christmas, he noted.

Sponsorships for the final round will be accepted no later than 3 p.m. today, Blakley said.

Sponsors are asked for a minimum sponsorship of five cards/$50 or more.

The CDC can take sponsorship funds via credit card over the phone, but checks are preferred to avoid the 3 percent card fees.

Checks may be made out to the CDC.

The final round begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19.

Go to https://bit.ly/2QB1ulz to participate.

KDSN Radio is acting as a phone bank for the event at 712-263-3141.

Visit cdcia.org for more information.

The CDC may be contacted at 712-263-5621.

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