The perseverance of communities continues to be a shining light during these trying times, and Wells Fargo is celebrating the optimism and determination of our community anchors.

From local food banks stepping up to meet the steep increase of people seeking assistance, to small businesses adapting to rapidly changing environments, to military service members and front-line workers committed to keeping our communities safe, Wells Fargo said it salutes those working together to support each other year-round, and especially during the holidays.

For small businesses specifically, there are some disturbing statistics that arrived with Small Business Saturday last month, including:

• More than 100,000 small businesses have closed since the start of the pandemic

• Forty-one percent of Black-owned businesses have closed during the pandemic.

According to an American Express Small Business Saturday Survey:

• Small Business Saturday was more critical than ever this year — many local shops were hoping that the day would provide much needed income boost amid the pandemic

• 46% of small business owners are counting on above average holiday sales to stay in business in 2021

From now through December, Wells Fargo is encouraging consumers to “shop local” to support those at the heart of our local business communities online and on social media.

The company also pledged to deploy more than $50 million from its Open for Business Fund to help small businesses during the holidays.

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Wells Fargo is featuring small business owners from across the country in an effort to draw attention to their resiliency during the current economic crisis and their unique stories of perseverance.

Among the Black-owned businesses is You Go Natural in Dallas. Before this year, Monique Little said her business decisions essentially had to do with making a profit, but when the COVID-19 pandemic began, she used some of the remnant fabric from her products to make masks to donate to the community, hiring seamstresses in need of work to help with the effort from their homes.

“This year has really highlighted how much our actions as business owners affect lives in our communities, we have a responsibility to add value and give back whenever possible,” Little said.

At first, Little said she didn’t have access to new materials, but her customers were excited about the masks and continued support of her business.

“Once I decided I would make the best of a difficult situation, so many people from the community stood in support,” Little said. “The best thing we have all done is give one another grace during times of so much uncertainty.”

Dija’s Touch Designs in Maricopa, Arizona, also counts among the Black-owned small businesses featured by Wells Fargo.

Kadijatu Ahene

In addition to running her business, Dija’s Touch Designs, which specializes in African print designs, this year Kadijatu Ahene has made personal protection equipment for first responders and coordinated a fundraiser to provide meals to those in need.

Wells Fargo’s Open for Business grant to a collaboration between LISC and Kiva trustee International Rescue Committee was a lifeline and helped her elevate her business during hard times.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to share the story of my business with the local news and work to provide a platform for other entrepreneurs to do the same as a part of the planning team for African Fest, a collaboration focused on the advancement of African culture in Arizona,” Ahene said.

She said she’s been grateful to her community this year, with customers traveling over an hour to purchase masks and people from all over the world supporting her business.

“Community has meant everything to me,” Ahene said. “The challenges we’re dealing with have brought us closer. Whether its friends and neighbors checking on me and my girls, delivering food, and more, COVID has reminded us that we’re all in this together and that we need each other to move forward in unity.”

Wells Fargo also has a social media campaign that targets raising $1 million for the American Red Cross

For decades, Wells Fargo and its employees have helped the American Red Cross prepare for critical needs ranging from blood drives and financial education to responding to disasters domestically and abroad.

During the month of December, Wells Fargo will build upon this relationship by encouraging customers and employees to come together on social media in support of the American Red Cross.

Wells Fargo will donate $5 to the American Red Cross for every post using the hashtag #WFGivesThanks, for a total donation of up to $1 million.

Social posts can thank front-line workers, teachers, military service members and others who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic, as a collective demonstration of gratitude for their efforts in providing hope and comfort at a time when our communities need it most.

Additionally, Wells Fargo will work with the American Red Cross and the Armed Forces program to unite military families this holiday season and in emergency situations all year long.

Support of veterans and military service members is at the core of Wells Fargo’s values, and the company is committed to empowering military communities to effectively navigate life’s transitions, achieve ongoing career and financial success, and positively affect their community.

The company also is helping to provide more food for holiday tables. Wells Fargo said it has a deep commitment to support people facing hunger through its long-standing relationship with Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States.

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo launched a Drive-Up Food Bank program, in which the company helped reach families facing hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic by working with local Feeding America member food banks to distribute food at some of the company’s branches and corporate locations.

To extend this effort during the holidays, Wells Fargo will host “surprise and delight” events by directing grants to Feeding America food banks around the country — ensuring there is food on the tables for people who need it most — and fulfilling upon the company’s commitment to help provide 82 million meals to families in need.

Wells Fargo will also contribute $250,000 to nonprofits feeding families in need in countries across our global footprint.

Additionally, Wells Fargo will deploy approximately $50 million through its Open for Business Fund to nonprofits that help small businesses stay open and to provide relief for small businesses during this time of need.

“For many, this will be a challenging holiday season, and at Wells Fargo, we’re working to make the holidays a bit brighter,” said Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf. “From providing food for people in need, to supporting Main Street businesses, to reuniting military service members with their families, the holidays are about hope, gratitude, and family.

“We recognize that giving is not just needed one month out of the year — it’s something we’re committed to year-round — and we’re heartened by the resilience and strength of the communities in which we live and operate,” Scharf said.

More details about Wells Fargo’s “Many Hearts. One Community.” holiday campaign can be found on the company’s social media channels and Wells Fargo Stories.

Stacey Brown photo

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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