Project Pay It Forward helps single moms, patients, needy - KMSP-TV

Project Pay It Forward helps single moms, patients, needy

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EDINA, Minn. (KMSP) -

An Edina businessman who specializes in making sports jerseys is now creating smiles all over the country to keep the memory of his friend alive via Project Pay It Forward.

What started as a vision to help single mothers has evolved into much more. For 20 years, Chris Bonvino and his Gemini Athletic Wear has created jerseys for teams nationwide.

"We're not rolling in it, but we're doing okay and we can give some of it back," he said.

Bonvino began giving to honor his friend Bill Mork's memory and what he stood for.

"He treated everyone with respect, had no ego -- nicest person in the world," he recalled.

At first, the Pay It Forward Project focused on single mothers to help them with their financial needs or to help make someone's holiday special. Over the years, it's evolved into helping those with illnesses and others who lost their jobs.

Julie Murphy is one of those who lost her job and couldn't pay for her daily medications. She received a letter from a "secret Santa" right before Christmas.

"I started to read it and I couldn't stop crying," Murphy recalled. "I couldn't finish the letter."

According to Bonvino, the spirit that guides the project wants to let people in need know that there are others out there who do care.

"Someone cares," he said. "It's not about the money but about the spirit in which it's given."

That spirit is also settling in to those Bonvino has touched.

"I was just overjoyed. I could not believe that somebody would do that for me," Murphy said. "It means so much to me that I know, when I do it, it's going to mean that much to someone else too."

In three years, Bonvino has helped families across the country by donating thousands of dollars -- and he asks just one thing in return.

"We want people, whether it's a kind act or a monetary gift -- do something," he urged.

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