SOUDERTON — The idea was to help local businesses weather the pandemic.
The Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce businesses that participated had their own ideas, though, of how the money raised from the sale of T-shirts with company logos and the #IndianValleyTogether hashtag should be used.
“We do screen printing and embroidery and we needed to pivot what we were doing because Covid caused all of our sales to tank and we wanted to figure out a way to stay busy and also give back to the community,” said Courtnee Wampole, who with husband Bryan, owns Get It Got It in Souderton.
The business has been an Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce member for years and worked with the Chamber to offer a way for other members to get some additional funds to help out during the coronavirus pandemic, Wampole said in a telephone interview.
T-shirts with the participating businesses' logo and the #IndianValleyTogether hashtag were offered through an online merchandise store, with the businesses publicizing the shirts to customers and social media followers, she said.
For each of the shirts sold, the business received $10.
“They were allowed to use the money for whatever they wanted to, no strings attached,” Wampole said.
“We assumed as a small business that the other small businesses were going to use that money to pay their bills, keep their lights on, pay their employees, pay themselves during Covid,” she said.
“What's really remarkable is that nearly every one of the eight businesses that participated,” Wampole said, “turned around and gave their money back to another organization, so we were able to pay it forward to the businesses. They in turn paid it forward again to local organizations in the community that help others.”
“Almost all of the participants are passing their proceeds on to nonprofits that serve the needs of the most vulnerable in our region,” Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steven Hunsberger wrote in an email. “I think that is what makes the Indian Valley a unique place. These businesses could have used the funds for their own needs, but choose to pay it forward to support others in the region.”
The 128 shirts sold means the businesses could have received $1,280, but most of the money went to others, Wampole said.
The $410 for Travelhaus was donated to Keystone Opportunity Center; Rising Sun Inn's $240 went to its own meal program for local families in need; Catering by Angela matched the $190 it would have received and donated the money to the Bean Bag food program; Brouse Landscapes gave its $100 to Generations of Indian Valley; Voice Matters gave its $80 to the Big Red Picnic program; and Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce's $60 went to the Bean Bag food program, a spread sheet provided by Wampole shows.
Each of the businesses have been affected by the pandemic, but chose not to keep the money for themselves, she said.
“They felt that there was a greater need in the community,” she said.
Hunsberger encouraged everyone to buy local.
“The money you spend here stays here — and the business community needs your support now more than ever before,” he wrote in the email. “We are a strong region, we have excellent businesses and professionals. Make sure you do as much of your business here as you can.”