MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is someone spreading goodness in Pine City. At least a dozen businesses received a similar letter, offering hope and help. The act of kindness demonstrates we’re all in this together.

In the quiet of Pine City, businesses are doing their best to stay afloat.

“It’s tough in the springtime in a small town like this, then with this virus,” Butch Nicoll said.

When restaurants were forced to close, Nicoll converted the back of his building into a walk-up pick-up window. It’s the most trying time he can remember since opening Nicoll’s Cafe 40 years ago.

“People come to small town cafes for conversation, not necessarily just the food. They come here to enjoy each other and converse,” Nicoll said.

Without that, business is down 75%, even with community support. Then a letter arrived that moved him to tears.

“It came addressed, no return address with some cash in it. Very nice amount of hundred dollar bills and it just says, ‘not much but I hope it helps.’ It was many businesses in town that got the same thing,” Nicoll said.

The envelopes showed up at Cabin Coffees. The Pizza Pub received one, so did Mom’s Parkside Cafe & Froggy’s next door. All full of cash.

“It gives you hope to think ‘OK, maybe we’ll make it through this and we’ll come out OK,’” Froggy’s owner Laura Root said.

Root says the value far exceeds the bills. You can’t put a price on this kind of gift.

And to the anonymous sender:

“From the bottom of our hearts here, thank you so much for thinking of us and trying to help in such scary times. It means an awful lot,” Root said.

They say this is the epitome of what living and working in a small town is all about. Supporting each other, in the good times and when you’re just hanging on.

Nicoll and Root say customers have been generous too. Some have left their own envelopes of cash. Others have left an extra hundred on a $20 tab.

Jennifer Mayerle