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Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

To the passage of more relief funding for small businesses.

Minnesota legislators this week approved roughly $216 million in relief for bars, restaurants, fitness clubs and other businesses affected by the state’s most recent shutdown.

The grant program is meant to quickly get money to the hardest-hit businesses, including fitness centers, breweries, wineries, bowling alleys and other venues. The Department of Revenue will send $88 million in automatic payments to hospitality businesses that have lost at least 30% of their sales. The grants will range from $10,000 to $45,000, depending on the number of employees.

About $112 million will be funneled through county governments to struggling businesses that don’t meet criteria for automatic payments, and $14 million will be sent to movie theaters and convention centers.

In addition to the state relief, Freeborn County also approved $250,000 toward local business relief. The money will be in addition to $150,000 approved by both the city and Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.

We know it has been a challenging year for many businesses in the community, and we hope this funding can help alleviate some of the financial burdens.

Until this money can be distributed, however, we encourage residents to support local businesses as much as they can.

Remember, these are our friends and neighbors.

To the anonymous donor who has pledged to match funds raised by the Salvation Army on Saturday.

Hats off to the person who has pledged to match up to $40,000 in donations raised by Albert Lea’s Salvation Army on Saturday.

In a time of uneasiness and stress for many, it is heartwarming to see someone step up and give of their means to benefit others in the community. We hope people who were considering donating to the local organization do so on Saturday, when your donation has the opportunity to be matched.

Donations can be made at one of four kettle locations in Albert Lea, including Hy-Vee, Bomgaars, Walmart and Trail’s Travel Center; online at salvationarmynorth.org/albertlea; or by dropping off a check at the Albert Lea Salvation Army at 302 Court St.

Many will benefit from your kindness.

To efforts to plan events this season.

We have already had some holiday events this year, and this weekend there will be a few more for area residents to enjoy.

We thank those who are putting in extra efforts to make these enjoyable for the community and to spread the cheer of the holiday season.

The Gift of Lights contest through the United Way of Freeborn County kicked off Thursday night and features various homes, businesses and organizations lit up in holiday lights and decor. Take a little time to drive around to the participants and check them out. The organization posted a map with the addresses on its Facebook page.

First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea is hosting a drive-thru live Nativity on Sunday and on Christmas Eve outside the church. People are encouraged to enter from the west using Clark Street and then turn right on St. Mary Avenue.

Still trying to meet up with Santa? There will be opportunities at Northbridge Mall and also at 622 W. Richway Drive.

Though many events look different this year because of COVID-19, we are impressed with how many are still trying hard to plan wholesome, uplifting events.

We thank you for your efforts. Know that they do not go unnoticed.