COVID-style fundraiser equals success for Brainerd Lakes Women of Today

The Brainerd women chapter members raised more than $11,000 for Jaimie's Purse and Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity with their Happy Hour with a Purpose Fundraiser.

Kim Finch (left) and Darlene Matthies, co-chairs of fundraisers for Brainerd lakes Area Women of Today, display the tickets and poster for their COVID-19 style fundraiser Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Brainerd. The Brainerd women chapter members raised more than $11,000 for Jaimie's Purse and Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity with their Happy Hour with a Purpose Fundraiser. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on a lot of things this past year but it didn’t stop the Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today from raising money for a good cause or two.

The Brainerd chapter members raised more than $11,000 for Jaimie's Purse and Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity with their Happy Hour with a Purpose Fundraiser.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today is a nonprofit group for women in the Brainerd lakes area. The women participate in a variety of projects through Early Childhood Family Education, the March of Dimes Walk, Relay for Life, Camp Confidence auction, church suppers, Butter Braid sales, flower bulb sales and more. The group also donates to the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center, Girl Scouts, local families in crisis, food shelves, Camp Confidence, Heartland Animal Rescue Team, TheShop youth center, New Pathways, Be a Santa to a Senior and The RadioThon to End Child Abuse.

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When the pandemic hit and COVID-19 restrictions were in place, the nonprofit group wasn’t able to host two of its events live — the annual Bachelor and Bachelorette Auction that benefits Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity and Happy Hour with a Purpose to benefit Jaimie’s Purse, a nonprofit organization to assist Minnesota families affected by pediatric cancer.

Chapter members of the Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today needed to get creative as they wanted to help support the charities, as well as the hospitality businesses that were shut down. Kim Finch and Darlene Matthies, co-chairs of the fundraisers, began to brainstorm and came up with an idea. They wanted to keep the fundraiser simple and easy for people. They reached out to local businesses in the lakes area to participate in the fundraiser that involved selling tickets. They sold 100 tickets for $25 a piece and it was good for two drink vouchers and a minimum of a $10 gift card to a maximum of $100 from participating businesses in the area. Finch said the response from the businesses was wonderful and they had seven participating bars and breweries, 13 event sponsors and door prizes that turned out to be gift cards from 23 businesses.


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Finch said they worked with Tito’s Homemade Vodka, a company based in Texas that works with organizations donating to charities. The company donated $2,000 to Jaimie’s Purse and provided a $5,000 matching grant to Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity. Habitat has a year to match the grant.

Finch said the tickets were sold in January and were redeemable in February and March. She said they were concerned as the state shut down bars and they wanted people to be able to use their tickets.

The governor in January changed the COVID-19 restrictions and allowed restaurants and bars to open their doors to 50%. In March it was upped to 75% capacity.

“Thank God the bars opened up,” Finch said, as people were able to use their drink vouchers. The vouchers have to be used by March 31.

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Finch said the Brainerd Lakes Area Women of Today — whose motto is "Having Fun, Making a Difference in Our Community!” — are grateful to the businesses and the community who contributed to helping their “6th Annual Happy Hour with a Purpose – Virtual Style!” fundraiser be a success.

“The hospitality industry suffered and took a big hit because of COVID,” Finch said. “And for these businesses to still be willing to participate in this fundraiser is very cool. They are so very, very generous.

“We won’t know the exact number until all the vouchers are redeemed through March 31, but based on tickets sales we know that we will be donating at least $2,000 to each of the event beneficiaries in addition to the $7,000 donated directly to Habitat and Jaimie’s Purse from Tito’s. … We’ve had so much positive feedback on this fundraiser that we may do it again.”

Businesses that participated

Bar and grill and liquor establishments participating in the event were 9th Street Social Club, Dunmire's Bar & Grill, Ernie's on Gull, Harpo's, Shep's on 6th, Jack Pine Brewery and Roundhouse Brewery.


Businesses who donated gift cards were: 371 Furniture & Mattress, 3 Cheers Hospitality, The Woods, Anderson Brothers Construction, 9th Street Social Club, Ye Old Pickle Factory, Brainerd Glass, Arby’s, Brekken's, Bremer Bank, Bev Bourassa-Ind. Tastefully Simple, Crow Wing Power, Bite’s Grill and Bar, CTC, Caribbean Beach Tanning Salon, Eagles Auxiliary, Cash Wise Liquor Baxter, Elite Title & Escrow, Cub Foods, Loide’ Oils & Vinegars, Design Consign, Mattson Lumber Co., Dunmire’s Bar & Grill, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Erickson’s Greenhouse, Waste Partners Inc., Foxden/Nisswa Hair Salon, Winners Trophy & Engraving, Hubbard Radio, Infinity Med Spa, McDonald’s, Morey’s Seafood Market, The Olde Open Window, Super One Liquor and Smiles for Jake.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.
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