Residents of the tiny town of Earlham, Iowa recently found a surprise gift in their mailboxes. Each of the town’s 549 households received an envelope with three $50 gift cards inside, two for local restaurants and one for the local grocery store. The generous gift comes from an anonymous donor and not even Mayor Jeff Lillie knows who it is.
He got a call from someone contacting him on behalf of the donor, who said the donor wanted to buy 100 $50 gift cards to support small local businesses and give them away. Then over the course of the day, the go-between increased the number to 500 and when the mayor told him that was almost enough for every household in town, he arranged to raise it again so all 549 would get the cards. That comes out to more than $82-thousand the donor spent altogether, more than $27-thousand at each business.
Now the town’s residents are happy, the small businesses get a boost, and the mayor is happy for some good news. “Nobody has had a lot to smile about the last few weeks,” he says. “And this is definitely something to smile about. It gives you some hope.”