As we’ve all entered the first days of our social isolation in an effort to slow the coronavirus, surrounded by piles of toilet paper and wine, all of us as moms are doubtless worried about not only our health but our own sanity. And as everything shuts down, there’s another fear we all have to contend with: what this is going to do to our community, both nationally and locally. For everything to effectively grind to a halt for a month is necessary — it’s called “flattening the curve” — but it will come at a heavy cost. We can’t do much on a national scale, but we can all make a difference, in our own little way, right here in our community on the First Coast.
This isn’t a knock on chain restaurants, or to suggest that I don’t love Target as much as the next mom. But right now, it’s our local businesses that need our help — and our money — the most. We aren’t supposed to be out and about much right now, but for businesses in the service industry, they have to remain open. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to continue helping out without necessarily exposing yourself or others. Restaurants like V Pizza, Prati Italia, and more are offering extended to-go options, so you won’t even have to leave your car. It’s also important to remember that, according to the CDC, there is no risk with the coronavirus associated with food — so it is safe to eat out at trusted establishments if you are not sick, and have not come into contact with anyone who is.
If you’re still not comfortable with that, then consider just buying gift cards; that will help infuse businesses with much-needed cash now, and then you’ll have the gift cards to use later when the crisis ends.
Patronize Businesses Hit Hard By Closures
One of the biggest events each year on the First Coast is The Players; it was canceled. That means all of the restaurants that have been prepping for days, or even weeks, getting food ready to serve thousands of people are now forced to eat a major loss. So consider patronizing these businesses to offset their hardship.
Other cultural offerings, like MOSH, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Jacksonville Zoo, and the FSCJ Artist Series, are having to close, meaning canceling major performances and events. (All of you who were excited to see Hamilton feel free to join me in a collective sobfest.) So while we can’t patronize these businesses in person, we can still, at least, give donations; even small ones, like $5, can help.
Get Some Swag
Another fantastic option to help keep local businesses afloat is to consider buying some swag. Maybe you don’t need to eat out or get entertainment — we all just stocked up like we were going to weather a month-long hurricane, right? — but you can still buy some other things. A lot of local restaurants, bars, and businesses have t-shirts, glassware, hats, and other merch you can buy. And that can go a long way as well.
It’s a running joke by now, the national shortage of toilet paper and Purell. But who is it not funny for? People who live on or below the poverty line. People living in homeless shelters. Families taking shelter from domestic violence at a safe facility. Many of these people literally cannot afford to stock up on a month’s worth of food and necessities, and they can’t work remotely or take time off, either. If you are taking stock of what you have and realize you have a little extra canned food or toilet paper, consider donating it to a local food bank. If you have friends whose employers aren’t letting them stay home, offer to watch their kids for them. There are tons of ways to help those around us in need; we just have to be willing.
It may seem counterproductive, during a time of social isolation, to realize that we need to focus on community. But this is a serious crisis, and during times like these, we won’t survive if we don’t band together. Give a helping hand to those around you. Be willing to sacrifice a little for our community. Go the extra mile. When all of this eventually passes, we’ll all be much better off for it.