GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Everybody knows the player Aaron Rodgers on the field, but his off the field acts have kept his hometown of Chico, California in tact in a big way.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, business owners took one of the biggest hits. Knowing how much those local restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses meant to the 94,000 population in Chico, Rodgers made sure the owners in the area that he grew up in wasn’t going to bed at night wondering ‘how will I be able to afford rent this month?’.
Rodgers teamed up with the North Valley Community Fund and has given more than $1 million to local businesses in Butte County to weather the Coronavirus. Calling it the ‘Aaron Rodgers Small-Business COVID-19 Fund’.
One of those businesses? Great Harvest Bread Company.
When owners Julie Kampfen and Jamie Hughes applied for a grant, they had no idea that they would be having a video call with the leader of the Packers just a few weeks later. Thinking it was just a business call with the North Valley Community Fund to learn more about Great Harvest Bread Company, Aaron Rodgers appeared on the screen to give them the message they were hoping for.
“He didn’t even really ask questions, it was like ‘alright, I’m going to help you out'”, said Hughes.
Rodgers went onto explain what Great Harvest Bread Company meant to the community in Chico and how their legacy was a staple in the area.
“The Great Harvest Bread Company has been apart of the community for a long, long time. You guys are third-generation business owners in the community which is so important”, Rodgers explained to Hughes and Kampfen over their video-chat.
The grant that Rodgers blessed Hughes and Kampfen with helped with rent, payroll, supplies, and so much more. In a time where the world had so many questions, including the two owners, Rodgers stepped up and gave them answers. Not only did Rodgers help them out, he reassured members in the Chico community that they were going to get through this together.
“We had so many costumers come in teary-eyed, just so happy what he (Rodgers) did for our community. Just so happy that the businesses around town were going to make it”, said Hughes.
That was just one story from a one local business that Rodgers helped. There were more than 150 others businesses that Rodgers helped in the last year in Butte County.
The giving didn’t just stop there. Rodgers surprised 80 business owners with a suite when the Packers visited San Francisco during week three on Sunday Night Football. Hughes and Kampfen talk about the generosity Rodgers has shown throughout the last year and a half, but also the type of human he is.
“10 minutes, I think it was, before he came out onto the field, he texted the North Valley Community Foundation representative that was there in the box with us and said something like ‘I really hope you all have a great time'”, said Kampfen. “He has national attention, he has the pressure of the game, and that was still on his heart – to make sure he expressed that.”
Rodgers would lead a 37 second comeback, capped off with a game-winning field goal from Packers kicker Mason Crosby. The business owners in the suites all shared one of the most unique experiences and it’s no coincidence that Rodgers was right in the middle of a historic comeback.
Months later, the grant that Hughes and Kampfen received from Aaron Rodgers has made them put everything that’s happened since the COVID-19 pandemic into perspective.
“Wherever you are, whether you’re a world famous-top tier-greatest of all time athlete or you’re just a small business owner, make a difference where you are with what you have”, said Kampfen.