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Raising money for Thanksgiving workers

Two cousins have started a crowdfunding campaign to bring hot coffee to workers staffing stores at Walden Galleria on Thanksgiving.

After hearing that locally-owned stores in Walden Galleria could face fines if they don’t open on Thanksgiving, Boston copywriter and Buffalo native Laura Masters considered organizing a boycott of the mall, but figured it was a losing battle. Instead, she and cousin Rebecca Masters of Buffalo decided to bring coffee to “fuel our family” of local retail workers, according to the campaign website.

“We need to support our fellow Buffalonians now and be a beacon, illuminating some cheer in what could be a seriously long, difficult day,” the site says.

The campaign on Indiegogo, called “Coffee and Cheer on Thanksgiving,” has raised $290 of its $3,000 goal. Supplies of coffee will go first to workers at locally-owned businesses and kiosks, then to small chain stores and larger chain stores as long as supplies last.

Many locally owned stores have said it doesn’t make sense for them to open on Thanksgiving because they don’t get as much traffic as the big boxes. But a provision in Walden Galleria stores’ leases leaves them open to fines if they don’t open – fines that are a heavier burden on smaller stores with limited resources.

“We thought this is our opportunity to do something really nice, to show employees who are stuck working that they aren’t alone, there are people thinking about them too,” Laura Masters said.