Person who makes a difference: Community service business as usual for Elkader restaurant owner

Chelsea Hanson

Age: 32

Lives in: Elkader

Family: Husband, Tyler, and children, Taylor, 8, and Drake, 7

Occupation: Owner of TD’s Sports Bar & Grill in Elkader

ELKADER, Iowa — Last month, Chelsea Hanson opened her restaurant’s doors to a group of junior high school students so they could raise money for a school lock-in event.

“The kids came and waited tables, they did dishes and they cleaned tables, and they got to keep the tips that night,” said Hanson, owner of TD’s Sports Bar & Grill in Elkader.

Hanson, 32, wasn’t done. She also chipped in 15% percent of restaurant proceeds on Jan. 10 to help the students collect more funds. It was one of many fundraising events Hanson has hosted, facilitated and supported financially.

“She’s amazing,” said Jessie Pensel, executive director of RISE Ltd., a nonprofit that provides in-home services for people with disabilities. “She does so many fundraisers. She always has something going on for someone.”

Hanson recently received a pair of annual community awards presented by the City of Elkader, Elkader Area Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Elkader.

The Entertainment Hub of the Year Award recognized Hanson for supporting “numerous community fundraisers” and for using her business to “ensure that our community is cared for,” a press release states. Hanson also received the Times-Register Good Neighbor Award for “her countless partnerships with local health benefits, community fundraisers, holiday giving and much more.”

“Chelsea is just a light-hearted, kind person who lights up a room whenever she walks in,” said Samantha Baumgartner, of Main Street Elkader. “We’re incredibly grateful to have a business owner who is willing to give back to those she is already serving.”

During the holidays, Hanson teams up with Pensel’s agency to contribute to a giving tree initiative to provide gifts for people with disabilities in the community.

“We provide her with names and a list of items (our clients) might like,” Pensel said.

Hanson places ornaments with the lists of needs on a tree in her business.

“Patrons can take an ornament off of the tree, and they bring in the gifts, and Chelsea and her family distribute the gifts,” Pensel said. “Chelsea and her whole family are involved — it’s a family affair. She has two young kids, and they are learning that giving spirit from her.”

It’s the involvement of her kids that provides Hanson with the most thrills.

“It’s important to know how to give and be kind,” Hanson said. “I was raised to be kind and generous and give back, and I just want them to do the same thing.”

Hanson took over TD’s from her brother Andrew in 2020. She began hosting benefits and other fundraising events from the beginning.

“Things pop up and I think, ‘Oh, I want to help,’ or ‘Oh, I want to do this,’” she said. “… It’s something I want to do. I do fine in owning a business, so as long as I’m afloat, why not help other people?”

Hanson said she only is helping people who already are helping her and her business.

“Most of the people we help are either customers or family or people who have become family,” she said. “Why not give back to those who are there for me?”