From left, Connie Kappert, Steve Bennett, and Heather Nieves have been hosting a daily gift card giveaway on Facebook to support Mascoutah businesses and the community.
By JULIE LAAKKO
Steve Bennett, Connie Kappert and Heather Nieves of The Kappert Group Re/MAX Signature Properties in Mascoutah have been hosting a daily giveaway since the beginning of April.
Each day they post a video of a local business to their Facebook page and invite anyone to ‘Like’ the video. At the end of the day, a name is randomly selected from the list, and the winner receives a gift card for that particular business.
“To have some fun and help everyone,” according to Steve Bennett.
Coming up with the idea was a team effort. They were worried about the businesses in town struggling during these stressful times, and hoped that a little bit of help could keep them open. Everyone at Re/MAX is so ingrained in Mascoutah that they could not help but feel bad for the local businesses and their struggles as well as what that might mean for the community.
After all, as Bennett pointed out, “if one business closes in town, what does that do for us? Fewer people move in, fewer businesses open up, and we have to go further for the things we enjoy.”
On top of that, Bennett added, “Everyone still wants to go out to eat.” A lot of us are missing our favorite local restaurants, and not everyone can budget for eating out, even if our favorite restaurants are offering carry-out. This giveaway is the perfect opportunity to help both sides of the community, the businesses and the residents who love them.
Heather Nieves went around to take videos at the businesses who agreed to take part in the giveaway. The businesses involved so far have been Dauber Pharmacy, Tom’s Supermarket, St. Louis Coffee World, Jefferson’s Restaurant, Mascoutah Steak House, Sax Speedi-Chek, El Sombrero, Mascoutah Ace Hardware, Fred’s Hardware, and the Mascoutah High School Athletic Department.
In the videos, the owners or employees of each business explain the changes in operation due to the stay-in order. This includes changes in hours, how they serve customers, and other important updates. For example, Dauber Pharmacy does not let the public into their store but they are more than happy to shop for customers and deliver items to their car. Tom’s is open, but they also offer delivery to those who need it.
The Re/MAX team said there have been at least 3,000 people participating in the giveaway. Some people comment on the posts or recognize a name, and begin chatting. It is a way of bringing the community together. People are also learning about the businesses from the videos.
Some of the businesses in town did not have gift cards, so Re/MAX designed one for them to use in the giveaway. Most of the gift cards were purchased by Re/Max, but Scott Battas demonstrated his Mascoutah spirit by donating a $50 gift card for the Mascoutah Athletic Department. His donation was the Easter Sunday giveaway.
“He is the biggest patriot that I know, and just such a good person,” Bennett said. “Battas’ donation could be used to purchase some Mascoutah gear and keep the town spirit going.”
In the end, this was not about the giveaway, it was about helping the businesses and the community. Re/MAX wanted to help the local businesses by driving people to them, and it worked. One business in particular had been struggling since the stay-in order, but since their giveaway they have seen an overwhelming outpour of support.
“That’s what makes Mascoutah what it is,” Kappert said. “Our community is always ready to step up, get involved, and support each other.”
The giveaway is still going, and Re/MAX says they will continue as long as the stay at home order continues. Now, two local businesses have contacted them about creating giveaway baskets, and Re/MAX has plans to give away a wreath “to brighten people’s day” at the end.
“Everyone’s just jumping on board to have some fun,” Bennett said.
This is not the first time Re/MAX has brought some fun into the community. In the past, they have sent a taco truck to the grade school, middle school, and high school the last three days of the school year to offer breakfast burritos to everyone in the schools. With remote learning extended through the end of the year they will not be able to do this again this year, so they plan to organize a big kick off for when school starts.
Re/MAX also plans to work with Nick Walter of Motto Mortgage Gateway in Shiloh to support the charity “Mission Against Hunger.” They are still working on the details, but are discussing having their company match donations for the Mascoutah Food Pantry.
As for their own business, Re/MAX says they are getting their rest now and bracing themselves for madness. While everything is a little slower than usual, they are not closed. After all, people still need houses. They are using technology to remotely show houses, as they often do with military families already, as well as taking proper precautions like masks, gloves, and shoe covers when showing houses to clients. They expect a surge of business come summer with military families moving into the area.