With in-person benefits on hold, program launches digital auctions to help families in need

And for the family of Fred and Anna Lassonde in Detroit Lakes, Minn., their bad luck has been instrumental in creating a whole new tool for helping — especially in the age of social distancing.

When a traumatic brain injury forced Fred Lassonde to leave his job as a detective with the Fargo Police Department in 2017, Anna became the primary source of income, taking a job at a nursing home in Detroit Lakes.

With bills piling up and less money coming in, the Lassonde family packed their belongings into a storage shed and sold their house in Lake Park, Minn., and moved to a home in Detroit Lakes. During their transition time, the Lassondes lost all of their belongings when a storm ripped the roof off the storage shed and destroyed everything inside.

Family and friends raised money to support the Lassonde family through their tough times. In an article written for InForum.com in October 2017, Anna said their faith had been tested but continued to grow stronger.

“We have faith in God that He’s going to provide for us through all of this,” she said in the 2017 article. “People keep coming out to help us through these things. It’s been quite amazing. This has been a huge test of faith, but if anything my faith has grown stronger. I know things will get better.”

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But just a few years later, the Lassonde family is again finding themselves in a bit of bad luck. Anna suffered an accident that left fractures in her back and pelvis, and caused her to leave her job at the nursing home to recover.

And just like before, family and friends have stepped up to help out. But this time, one foundation in Fargo is lending a hand in a whole new, virtual way.

Lend A Hand Up is an organization that helps families and friends raise funds to benefit those battling health issues. Special to The Forum

Lend A Hand Up is an organization that helps families and friends raise funds to benefit those battling health issues. Special to The Forum

Lend A Hand Up raises financial help and hope for local families facing a medical crisis. The program provides resources, including how-to guides, personal coaching, online giving tools, boost grants and, with the Lassonde family’s campaign, an online auction tool, a first for the program that launched on June 10.

“The online auction tools provide a pivot for Lend A Hand Up toward virtual benefits,” Director Jeana Peinovich says.

With social distancing measures still in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, the option to host in-person benefits, which makes up over 80 percent of funds raised, was gone.

“As benefits were canceled, Lend A Hand Up staff and board members pivoted their creativity toward the development of new and meaningful ways for people to offer financial support and hope to friends, co-workers and family members battling health issues,” Peinovich says. “Since silent auctions were central to fundraising success at benefits, strategizing quickly led to the development of online auction tools without upfront, cost-prohibitive fees.”

All operational expenses are funded by the Dakota Medical Foundation, meaning 100 percent of all funds raised can go to the families. In addition to offering support to these families, Lend A Hand Up also enhances gifts through its boost program, providing up to $5,000 in boost grants.

But what’s the benefit to hosting online auctions instead of simply holding an online giving campaign? Peinovich says it’s mostly about ease.

“An online auction provides an easy way to help friends and family from the comfort of one’s home or office,” she says. “It’s accessible to anyone, at any location, 24 hours a day.”

Supporting local families through Lend A Hand Up is easy. To learn about campaigns benefiting local families and view auction items and current bids, visit auctions.lendahandup.org.

Anyone can view auction items and learn about the families and campaigns on www.lendahandup.org. To place a bid on an item or to make an online donation, participants must register their credit card online.

The campaign benefiting the Lassonde family is live now through July 6, with the online auction portion remaining active until Wednesday, June 24. Funds raised in this campaign will be boosted by 20 percent, up to $5,000, to increase the impact.

— to www.dl-online.com

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