On Friday, March 13, Governor Abbott formally declared a state of emergency in Texas regarding the COVID-19 virus. Local business and community leaders have acted quickly in the face of a state-wide pandemic, with many switching their employees to full-time remote work for the foreseeable future.
And while the team here at Amplify continues to work closely with city and state leaders to ensure that we are taking every available precaution against the spread of the disease, we recognize that the impact of the coronavirus to our community is only now being felt. You may know the best ways to keep yourself and your family safe, but, like, us, you also have a strong desire to support the businesses and organizations also impacted by this disease.
This is why we’ve pulled together a few suggestions on how you can give back to your community while still following the Center for Disease Control’s individual best practices.
It is extremely important that medical professionals have the resources they need before additional cases of the COVID-19 virus are located in Central Texas. This is why our partners at the American Red Cross have put out an urgent call for blood donations at blood drives across the state.
If you are an eligible and healthy blood donor, now is a good time to visit the American Red Cross website and make time to donate blood in the immediate future. You can also visit We Are Blood, Central Texas’s long-standing community blood bank, for alternate donation opportunities.
Purchase Gift Cards for Local Businesses
How do you support a local business while still practicing self-distancing? The first instinct for many members may be to rush out and offer financial support to their favorite restaurant or coffee shop, but most experts agree that limiting your exposure to public places is an important tool in our fight against COVID-19.
This is where gift certificates come in. By purchasing online gift certificates or gift cards for your favorite local shops, you will be able to support these organizations financially without negatively impacting the health of your community. Gift certificates offer a much-needed infusion of cash into small businesses during a period of crisis. Once social practices return to normal, you will be able to use these gift certificates at your convenience.
Here are ways you can support Amplify Credit Union’s food services partners:
- Chi'Lantro BBQ will allow customers to purchase gift cards at any store location. The restaurant also recommends taking advantage of their catering services to place orders online for delivery.
- The Cupcake Bar announced it will be accepting orders for cupcakes, cupcake kits, and gift cards. You can order these by email or by calling (512) 903-0187.
- You can order gifts cards from Italian-inspired family restaurant L’Oco d’Ora by visiting the restaurant’s website.
- You can order gift cards from Wholly Bagels by visiting the restaurant’s website.
- You can order gift cards from Kellie’s Baking Co. by visiting the bakery’s website.
- Caffé Medici does not currently provide an online gift card option for its coffee shops, but you can visit the Medici Roasting website and purchase mugs or bags of coffee online.
Donate to a Local Food Bank
As more organizations emphasize online services to protect the health of their employees and customers, many families may find their access to affordable meals limited. This can be particularly tough for families who depend on school lunches for a healthy alternative for their children, or for those experiencing homelessness in our community.
Thankfully, organizations like the Central Texas Food Bank are working hard to ensure that families impacted by local shutdowns will still have access to the meals they need. Central Texas Food Bank also provides instructions on their website to turn your regular volunteer activities into a Virtual Food Drive (VFD), which will allow volunteers to be increasingly flexible as this situation unfolds.
Donate to a Local Non-Profit
With so many people affected by the COVID-19 virus, it has become harder for Texas nonprofits to gain access to much-needed supplies and services. While most organizations will welcome donations, financial contributions often allow these non-profits to respond quickly to the changing needs of their communities. Even a small donation to your non-profit of choice could make a huge difference in the weeks to come.
Looking for a non-profit to support? We recommend starting with our three signature partners: American Red Cross of Central & South Texas, Caritas of Austin, and Saint Louise House. Each organization plays an important role in protecting those experiencing homelessness in Central Texas, and each has also issued important guidance on how to help during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Red Cross currently faces a "severe blood shortage" due to the shelter-in-place order. If you are healthy and able, please visit their website to find a blood drive location near you. On that page, you will also learn how the Red Cross is ensuring the health of its donors.
- To respond quickly to the changing needs of its community, Caritas of Austin is requesting that you provide monetary gifts and contribute items highlighted on its Wish List.
- Saint Louise House also requests that you provide monetary gifts or in-demand supplies from its Amazon Wish List. To learn more, please visit the COVID-19 page on their website.
For more information on how Amplify's ongoing campaign with its signature partners, please visit our "Safe Place to Call Home" page.
Support Workers Impacted By the Cancellation of SXSW
While the impact of COVID-19 is now being felt by businesses across the city, it is important to remember that the cancellation of SXSW still looms large over Austin. SXSW adds an estimated $350 million to the local economy, and many freelancers and gig economy professionals have come to depend on this income as a large portion of their annual earnings. Here are a few organizations trying to bridge the gap for the musicians and self-employed members of our community.
- The Red River Culture District has launched a GoFundMe for members of the music community impacted by the cancellation of SXSW. This organization, which is a registered 501(c)(3), is working with local venues and artists to provide financial relief to those whose earning potential has been impacted by the pandemic.
- Local advertising agency T3 has also launched a GoFundMe for service industry professionals, this one aimed at increasing the amount of tips received at businesses around the city. Tips are the primary form of income for many workers, and T3’s efforts will ensure that some additional money will directly into the pockets of those who need it most.
- Mayor Adler has recommended the Stand With Austin Fund as a valuable resource for those experiencing financial hardship. Stand With Austin Fund is a registered 501(c)(3) that is engaged in “assisting individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW.” Unlike the above GoFundMe pages, Stand With Austin Fund will allow you to pledge your support by mail with a check.
Ultimately, the best thing for the Austin community is your continued good health. Follow the guidelines laid out by the Center for Disease Control, and together, we can keep those at-risk members of our community safe.