CANTON, S.D. (KELO) — A retired couple in Canton is helping local businesses get back on their feet.
Lori and John Lems started the Canton Helping Canton project with a $1,000 donation.
The Canton Helping Canton project is raising money to buy $25 gift cards for local businesses, some open, some closed, as the community attempts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Very first business I walked in to, he was so touched by it, and I gave him $50, he was so touched by it that he wanted to continue it for as long as I could keep it going,” Canton resident Lori Lems said.
“We’ve had nothing but positive response from all business owners and those that have been donating funds,” Canton Chamber Director Lisa Alden said.
A local business owner for 25 years, Lori Lems has collected more than $10,000 over the past two weeks, far exceeding expectations.
“Maybe we’ll get a couple thousand dollars you know, and as of this morning it was over $10,000. I got another about $1,500 in the mail today, and I had a message not too long ago I have somebody sending $1,000,” Lems said.
That generosity has extended beyond Canton, and even South Dakota.
“A gal that lived, grew up near Fairview, South Dakota, from Las Vegas, Nevada, and she sent money. I have cousins from Rapid City, from Sioux Falls that have sent us money,” Lems said.
The sky’s the limit for this two week project that Lems now expects to last though the summer.
“We reached $10,000, so let’s work toward $15,000, well, I’m getting pretty close to that this afternoon, so yeah, we’re just going to keep reaching for a goal,” Lems said.
“You know, it’s always been said small communities come together in time of crisis and this pandemic has been sort of a crisis for our small community and I think this is just a way for community members to give back, so it’s been great,” Alden said.
Visit the Canton Helping Canton Facebook page for more information on the project.