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Try these ways to help small businesses

Experts predict that the whole world is likely to enter into a recession in 2020. Some sectors will suffer more than others with small businesses being hit particularly hard. Some may be prepared to survive for longer periods than others, with some only able to survive for no more than two or three months.

Mitigation and social distancing are the right things to do. However, the worry is that if everyone stays home, we won’t just shut down COVID-19; we will shut down some businesses as well. There is the potential for some to lose weeks’ worth of income, and these are businesses that contribute to and are integral parts of the fabric and character of our precious communities. We all need them to survive.

On one of the many broadcasts surrounding this pandemic, a little girl said something of incredible significance. She said, “Love is stronger than any virus!” Businesses, our neighbors, our relatives, the frontline workers, the sick all need our love and our help right now in ways that do not risk our own health. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Buy a gift card. Treat yourself or treat someone else. Send one to a nurse or healthcare worker to order some tacos after work. Stock up on cards from coffee shops, nail salons and flower shops to give as gifts down the road . . . for birthdays, Mother’s Day, graduation or teacher gifts. Just remember where you put them and do not let them expire!
  • Set a goal of eating out (which is really in) two or three times a week. Call for curbside pickup or delivery.
  • Shop local, but try to do it online. You’ll run across perks such as free shipping or personal delivery. And, we all need books and other happies by our side these days.
  • Remember the tip! It’s a pretty crappy time to be a waiter, a delivery driver, a bartender, etc. Not only are they working fewer hours, but they also are collecting fewer tips from their regular customers.
  • Think about skipping a refund. If you are having to miss a show for which you bought tickets, think about writing them off as a donation instead of asking for your money back.
  • Check on your neighbors. Call them or text them. Ask if there is anything they need, and if you have it, offer to leave it outside their door. Chat through the screen door just to share a bit of reassurance.
  • Give blood. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, fewer people will be eligible or willing to give blood or plasma. Donating blood is a safe process, and the need is constant.
  • Exercise your attitude for gratitude. Make a list of those you wish to thank; grocery store clerks, nurses and doctors police and firefighters, delivery folks, teachers, those who have made and donated supplies such as masks, and on and on. Little acts of kindness become great acts of love.

And most of all, take care of yourself!

Ruth R. Nichols is special assistant to the president for community and economic development at Alcorn State University.