Giving the Best Christmas Ever

Published 6:07 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

T’ N G Plumbing, Pay it Forward looking to spread yuletide cheer to deserving family

For years, Dexter-based T’ N G Plumbing has been known for holding its annual Pay it Forward fundraiser to provide renovation work for deserving individuals and families. But this year, T’ N G will be taking it a step further to help a family have the Best Christmas Ever.

The non-profit Best Christmas Ever organization began in Cloquet, where in November 2010 single-father Don Liimatainen was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, causing him to miss work and lose income. A group of friends came together to help Liimatainen and his son have a Christmas, prompting Liimatainen to keep the program going and growing.

“What they do is they look for team captains and they wanted to get into the Austin area,” said Gina Grundmeier, co-owner of T’ N G Plumbing. “Sam Ewing from Sterling Main Street gave them my name and said I would be a great team captain for the area. That’s when Pay It Forward became involved.”

Grundmeier noted that the Astrup Family Foundation is assisting with the program

Best Christmas Ever selects a local family that has fallen on hard times through no fault of their own through a nomination process.

“Nominations started Sept. 1 and they go to Nov. 1,” Grundmeier said. “It is not a self-nomination process; a family, friend or whomever would have to nominate. The nominator will be the person that I will be in close contact with once the family is chosen and we’ll work through the coordination of everything.”

Once a family has been chosen, Grundmeier said a Christmas tree will be placed at Sterling Main Street. Tags will be placed on the tree with 5-10 gift ideas per family member from the nominator; community members can help by purchasing the gifts for the family.

Aside from gifts, community members can help raise money for the family. Grundmeier said the goal is $5,000.

“Obviously if we go over, that’s fantastic,” she said.

Donations raised go towards the following categories:

• A gift valued at around $5,000 based on the family’s needs (such as mortgage/rent assistance, furniture, transportation assistance, etc.).

• $1,000 to be used towards a bill of choice upon completion of a financial education program.

• $1,000 grocery store gift card upon completion of a health program.

Grundmeier said she is looking for a company to help sponsor the program. She also noted that aside from donating and purchasing gifts, community members are welcome to meet the family when the time comes.

“We probably all know someone who has come upon a situation, be it a house fire or a medical illness, that has needed the help of people around them to get them through it,” she said. “That’s what we’re looking to do. This is another way for the community to reach out to a family that needs to be uplifted for Christmas.”

To donate, visit https://bcemovement.kindful.com/bce2021/raise-them-up or https://www.gofundme.com/f/raise-them-up-drive-2021-bce-drive. To nominate a family, visit https://www.bcemovement.org/nominate-a-family-. Grundmeier noted that you must watch the video at the bottom of the page for the nominate button to work.