With love from California: Thompsons donate meals from afar

Sarone Paulzine prepares coffee on Friday morning at Dunn Brothers Coffee for employees at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bemidjians from around the community have been rallying together since the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants and bars to go to alternate modes of business.

To show their support, some have been alternating where they buy their meals to help small businesses in the community stay afloat during these difficult times.

Dean and Mary Ann Thompson, longtime residents of Bemidji, wanted to show their appreciation for the people who are working in the health care community, but also help out a business here in town.

“We had decided that there are two things we see happening and one of them is small businesses and even medium-sized businesses in Bemidji are struggling, especially restaurants,” Dean said. “The other thing that you hear about is how people are taking care of our community, particularly the hospital and clinics.”

The Thompsons decided to buy 95 meals that included sandwiches, soups and coffees from Dunn Brothers Coffee and had them delivered to staff at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.


“I talked with the chief operating officer at the hospital, to see where they thought the most need was and they told us the two places that were pretty much holding down the fort,” Dean continued. “So we ended up deciding on two-fold, that we could support Dunn Brothers Coffee by ordering those lunches and then showing appreciation to the people at the hospital, because in a lot of ways they are putting their lives on the line.”

Currently, the Thompsons are quarantined in California and haven’t had the chance to make it back to Minnesota. So they were glad to be able to show support and appreciation for their hometown from a distance.

“My wife and I were both fortunate enough to be lifelong residents of Bemidji, to be able to live and raise a family where there are great values that keep it a great solid place to live and grow up,” Dean said. “We want to leave it better than when we started.”

Danielle LeClaire, manager of Dunn Brothers Coffee in Bemidji, makes Tuscan turkey sandwiches on Friday for employees at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Hannah LaVigne is a Multimedia Reporter at Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and graduated from Bemidji State University in 2020. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @hannahlavigne. Contact her at (218) 333-9772 or
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