Midland gives: Community efforts to help come in all shapes and sizes

From gift cards, to pop-up food pantries, to donations to community nonprofits, to something as simple as neighbors and acquaintances giving others a small surprise, the spirit of Midland has come out in full force over the past month.

What has been a collective and immediate effort, came from all corners of the community.

Dow donated $500,000 locally to efforts in Midland, Bay, Isabella and Saginaw counties and $3 million globally, as well as switching over to help with the production of sanitizer at five plants.

The Midland Area Community Foundation had one of the largest donation years this week, with 2020’s 24-hour ‘Give Local’ donation tally coming in at $404,229, which was raised by 1,190 donors and will benefit 67 local nonprofits and organizations. The amount was marked by record-setting tallies all around, but the most remarkable thing about the amount was that it was raised in one of the biggest times of stress locally and globally in recent history.

The event capped another significant milestone reached by the foundation in late April, when the funds distributed locally through the Midland Area Community Foundation eclipsed $1 million to help those in the community impacted by COVID-19. With the help of several other Midland nonprofits including the Strosacker Foundation and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, several local businesses, generous donors and with the help of the United Way of Midland County, the community set in motion the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Other efforts happened organically, like the mobile food pantries that popped up for those often experience a first-time need for assistance or those who immediately took to their sewing machines making masks for those in need.

Local screen printing and T-shirt shop Red Threads kicked off the wildly successful “I Am Midland” campaign that ran the month of April. As of May 1, the campaign generated more than $103,000 for local businesses. Recipients canvased all corners of Midland’s small business community, from salons, to restaurants, to automotive shops.

'I am Midland' raised over $100,000 for local businesses. (PC: Red Threads / Katie Truemner Bruessow)

In total, over 7,200 items were sold in the 30-day campaign in which 90 percent of the proceeds went to benefit local businesses of each recipient’s choice.

“People want to give to their community, the people they love, the business they frequent,” says Josiah Blackmore, owner of Red Threads.

In total, 225 businesses received some sort of donated funds because of the campaign.

But efforts happened on a small scale as well, sometimes unseen and unrecognized.

We’ve all heard stories of others grabbing groceries for elderly or at-risk neighbors, businesses providing healthcare workers with free meals for their service, yards are lined with signs cheering on those on the front line at MidMichigan Health and Sugnet Road still resembles a parade route most days with well wishes thanking workers on their way to and from the hospital.

Just last week a Facebook group popped up for surprise wine delivery, simply to put a smile on another’s face in times of social distancing and isolation.

Any of these acts on their own are substantial, as well as the thousands of others that occur between strangers, neighbors and friends that go unmentioned each day.

Whether it has been small or large, single acts or hundreds of t-shirts, the collective efforts of the community can be summed up simply as Midland gives all we can.

Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. As the Managing Editor of Catalyst Midland, her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner. 
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