Anonymous Donor Sends $150 In Gift Cards To Every Household In Iowa Town

April 08, 2020

An anonymous donor surprised the town of about 1,400 that sits 30 minutes from downtown Des Moines by purchasing gift cards to three local businesses and arranging for the city to send them to every household.

In the midst of a global pandemic, that would be an act of kindness, no matter the amount on the cards.


But the money can't be ignored. Residents of the town's 549 households received an envelope containing three $50 gift cards to West Side Bar and Grille, Hometown Market and Trostel's Broken Branch. The cards added up to more than $82,000 spent by the donor between the three restaurants, or more than $27,000 each. 


It started with a March 26 call to Mayor Jeff Lillie from a man who said he was contacting Lillie on behalf of the donor. The man said the donor wanted to pump some money into the local economy and said the donor was willing to purchase 100 $50 gift cards to West Side Bar and Grille and Hometown Market, the local grocery store. 

The city is already paying the gift forward. Lillie said if people do not want to use their gift cards or if they can't for any reason, to drop the cards off in the bill pay slot of City Hall. The cards will then be given to families in the Earlham Community School District. 

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