A woman in a purple shirt with A holding a yellow starburst sign

The winter of 2020 was a particularly tough one, with COVID-19 shutting down businesses and putting pressure on our economies all across Minnesota. But difficult times make hope shine out the brightest. 

With the pandemic shutdowns threatening livelihoods in Bemidji, 11 local businesses, including Affinity Plus, banded together with the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce to create the Gift of Hope fund. They wanted to find a way not only to support the bottom line of Bemidji businesses, but also to show local business owners and community members that they aren’t alone.

So they started the Gift of Hope fund, which allowed folks to purchase $50 gift cards to a number of local businesses, and after that purchase, the Gift of Hope fund provided an additional $20 gift card to provide extra value. And the community responded, with 1,900 gift cards purchased and $212,000 raised and invested back into the community. 

In total, the Gift of Hope effort helped support 58 businesses and more than 85 families in Bemidji through a winter of uncertainty, not only with money but also with the knowledge that their town cares about them. 

And that’s what investing in a community is all about.