Saturday, March 28, 2020

Local online efforts to share the love during the coronavirus crisis

Local Love and CB Tip Jar

By Dawne Belloise

A couple of organic efforts to assist with the sudden coronavirus crisis in the valley have taken shape. The goal is basically to support one another in unusual times.

Local Love CB

When Heather Connor saw all the Facebook posts from locals wanting to help other locals in any way possible during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, she felt it might be a good idea to coordinate volunteers with those in need and created Local Love, a Facebook page to do exactly that. She also started a Go Fund Me to help those who were high risk for the virus as well as the hourly wage workers in the community who had lost their jobs because of the shutdowns.

“This all came from the fact that as we become isolated and mindful of going out, we also have anxiety. Everyone’s being affected. It’s frustrating. We’re all wondering how we can support each other and our community,” Connor says. With so many locals offering support services such as delivery, shopping and errand running, she decided to create a page to localize all those efforts.

The purpose of the page in one aspect is to communicate, to connect and to focus efforts. “The focus is two-fold. The first is for the high-risk population to be able to stay at home and we can drop off care kits for them, coordinate things like medication pick-up and make sure that they can stay at home comfortably. Our community is so hardy; our elders don’t act like seniors. On top of that, we’re a pretty independent population so a lot of seniors won’t ask for help because they’re so independent and strong. They’re used to taking care of themselves, so it’s our responsibility to say to them, ‘We know you’re independent but let us help you to not take unnecessary risks at this time because we want you to be here for a long time.’ We’ll be proactive so they don’t have to ask.”

Secondly, locals want to focus on the hourly wage workers and service industry people. “March is one of our higher income-producing months and these workers depend on this income to get them through off season,” Connor explains. “What happens in our resort community is that in four weeks, we would have been in off-season but these workers are going into off-season early with no income or means to make income. We don’t have that same opportunity to make up wages as non-resort markets because our on-season will start mid-June, depending on when people feel safe traveling again.”

The Go Fund Me proceeds will go into supplying basic care packages, as Connor notes, “We are creating a list of what will be in the basic care packages and focusing on the high risk and hourly wage population.” Daily supplies meant to sustain for a whole week such as coffee, food, non-perishables, fresh produce, toiletries, household and, if applicable, pet items. “Right now we’re working on a delivery schedule, and a questionnaire for those who need assistance. We’re lining up healthy people who can drive a route (no contact with people, just drive and drop). We’re trying to make it simple and systematic and easy for people to volunteer,” says Connor.

The Go Fund Me makes it easy for locals, visitors, second homeowners and friends to donate. “And anybody who loves us and our community. Any amount is appreciated and will help,” Connor says, encouraging everyone to share the message with friends and post the link to their Facebook page. “A lot of people giving a little is going to get our community through this.” There are also many ways for healthy locals to help out, sign up to deliver, share the Facebook page or donate.

“What’s really cool about our community is that we have the opportunity to show other communities how to come together and get through this,” Connor added. “The more people see it, share it, donate time and funds, the more power we have to help others.”

Find Local Love on Facebook at facebook.com/locallovecb or call Heather at (970) 209-8050.

 

CB Tip Jar

Haden Spencer was inspired from various other Tip Jar websites across the country that were set up to help workers in the service industry. She and her family created CB Tip Jar to raise funds specifically to help service employees of local restaurants and bars in Crested Butte who essentially lost their wages and tips during what is normally the busiest month of the winter season, just as spring breakers were to begin arriving en masse.

Spencer wrote in an email, “We are working with local restaurants and bars to try to help their employees who count on tips for their daily living. Our hope is to show support, concern and empathy and put money directly in pockets of these folks.”

She and her husband, John, have created a website, cbtipjar.com, that individually lists 30 local restaurants and bars with a link that takes you to PayPal. The donations go directly to the restaurant you choose and all tips are distributed directly to the employees.

The General Tip Jar donations will be equally distributed among all the establishments listed on the website. Spencer adds, “We can accept Venmo as well by using @cbtipjar and adding in the memo area if donation is for ‘general tip jar’ or for a specific restaurant tip jar.” The restaurant must be included on the website.

Spencer says like so many people, she was reading whatever she could get her hands on. “I was concerned and in shock,” she says after reading an industry magazine article about what was going to happen to the employees. It led her to Google “virtual tip jar” and found that a few had already been set up to support the tip-dependent workers. A friend of the family, a former partner in her husband John’s software company, helped them build the platform for the website, which she designed.

“Our hope is to make a difference. We don’t know what to expect and we can’t guarantee anything but if we can even help with a tank of gas, a utility bill or grocery shopping, we’ll feel good that we’ve made a difference.

“My other hope is that we get participation from the broad community. Everyone counts, from locals to second homeowners, giving on any level, just to show concern and support because we’re all a community, even if were not here 100 percent of the time. Every person who walks down Elk can contribute to the feeling of community and community is what makes Crested Butte unique and special and keeps people coming back,” Spencer says. The entire fundraiser project is completely volunteer.

Spencer says, “I am committed to using my time and energy and can answer any questions and give reports on funds received and donated at any time. I just felt that I wanted to make a difference.”

Find it on Facebook at CB Tip Jar and instagram @cbtipjar.

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