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Tucson restaurants and teachers surprised with $24K worth of gift cards

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 09:32:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "We really thought it was a scam. It was unbelievable when we got the call," says Javier Teran, owner of Nana's Kitchen.

That call was from the auto repair store, BRAKEmax. Not for a service appointment reminder, but to let Javier know that his store and a few other businesses across Tucson would be getting a bit of a boost.

"So what we decided to do was make large purchases of gift cards for local restaurants in order to give them that cash infusion," says Jeffry Gardner, VP of Marketing, BRAKEmax.

How much money exactly? $24,215 worth of gift cards.

"It helped. It helped catch up on bills that were passed-due. It helped with rent. And again, just being able to buy food to supply to my customers helped out a lot," says Teran.

Let’s go back to Jeffry from the BRAKEmax on Tucson’s Eastside. Remember: they’re the ones who initially came up with the plan to pump all that cash into Tucson’s economy. It sounds like a dream, but in reality, how does one spend 24 grand worth of gift cards at local businesses? You don’t; you give it away.

"We decided we didn't want to use them for our own personal use or gain," says Gardner. We decided to give back to another group that's been working exceptionally hard during this whole time."

That group? Teachers and staff from schools around Tucson.

"Essentially every staff member got a card out of nowhere that has some discounts and things for BRAKEmax and also a gift card for Bear Canyon Pizza," says Dr. Scott Hagerman, Superintendent, Tanque Verde Unified School District.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better…

"We threw in five dollars extra per gift certificate, just to give a little bit more. You know, it wasn't a whole lot, but it gives them a little something extra," says Teran.

Money out of their own pocket to help those who have also struggled over the last 12 months.

"It's just a nice kind of energy boost," says Hagerman. "We're kind of getting to the end of the pandemic and things are kind of going back to normal, so this kind of kicks us across the finish line. I'm just super happy about the whole thing."

Talk about supporting your neighbor.

"It goes to show that there there's a lot of kindness still left in this world that we forgot with this whole pandemic," says Teran.

Kindness, indeed. Add in some gratitude, compassion and faith, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful recipe that truly shows how lucky we are to live in a place that puts community first.

Restaurants and schools involved in BRAKEmax gift card program:

School PartnerCountGC AmtSpend
Bear Canyon PizzaTVF / TVUSD257$30$7,710
Nana's Mexican KitchenCoyote Trail Elm78$30$2,340
Nana's Mexican KitchenRattlesnake Ridge Elm55$30$1,650
Nana's Mexican KitchenLeman Academy Marana99$30$2,970
Pub 1922Walden Grove HS99$30$2,970
Pub 1922Sahuarita HS91$30$2,730
Sonoran Brunch CompanySahuaro Cougar Foundation131$25$3,275