In light of the holiday season, the Orono-based nonprofit Hope Chest for Breast Cancer organized a way for people to get involved, stay connected and participate with their Hope for the Holidays fundraiser.

The event featured a silent auction that ran from Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 and a live-streamed concert on Dec. 3 with Go Radio’s DJ DMil. This was also the first time Hope Chest hosted a fundraiser so late in the year.

“We planned from the start that this would be something people would do remotely. Looking ahead, we didn’t see a year where it would be safe for people to gather in December together with great certainty. We thought this would be a great way to live our mission, tie it to our name and give people hope for the holidays,” Jamie Flaws, executive director, said.

Hope Chest provides local breast cancer patients and their families access to help for daily needs including housing, transportation, utilities, nutrition and childcare. Hope Chest also runs a resale shop that features donated, high-end women’s clothing and accessories, furniture and home decor.

With people spending more time at home, the resale shop has seen an increase in donations from those who are cleaning out or redecorating their homes. The shop has also seen an increase in shoppers. With many people facing financial hardships due to the pandemic, Flaws believes more people are looking for “good finds at a good value.”

Historically, Hope Chest has centered their fundraising around activities and events that meet in-person. Their popular events - such as their fashion show and Flock the Yard event - were adjusted as well.

“Like every other organization across the world, we really did have to pivot and make changes,” Flaws said.

This year Hope Chest hosted a live gourmet pantry event, shifted the fashion show, had the community adopt flamingos and hosted other online fundrasiers.

This year, over 1,000 flamingos were adopted for Flock the Yard fundraiser. The local Dell Technologies team supported the initiative by enabling their team members to adopt what ended up being over 600 flamingos.

The annual Girls Night Out Shopping night at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove donated 100 percent of the proceeds to Hope Chest. They also had a Mask-erade themed focus to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

The Runway for Hope Virtual Fashion Show took place in August and was recorded at the Freestyle Productions Studio in Golden Valley and made available for viewing online. The Galleria Edina provided the fashions for the show and it was styled by Grant Whittaker. A curb-side brunch from People’s Organic was included in the ticket price as well.

With all the adjustments, Hope Chest still saw successful fundraising events as well as including new donors they have not reached before.

Hope Chest has seen new donors because the online fundraisers are more accessible and are allowing the new donors come in at less costly levels. Their online fundraisers are free to view and provide a platform for those attending to learn more about the needs of the nonprofit as well as what they are providing local breast cancer patients.

“The format is less costly,” Flaws adds. “While we may not get much in from a silent auction as we would if we were in person, our costs are a lot less so we’re able to have the same type of contribution numbers go to the bottom line. For us, that means being able to give more financial assistance.”

Despite the hardships all-around, Flaws said their fundraisers were also successful due to the in-kind donations from community businesses and donations from the community as a whole.

“Hope Chest has been fortunate to have so many loyal donors. There have been strong supporters that continue to support us and in some cases have stepped up their contributions,” she said.

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