WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all segments of life in America, and likely will for the near future. There is a new program designed to help two segments of the Wilmington community facing some of the toughest challenges from the virus, healthcare providers and restaurants.
The program is called Meals For Heroes, a collaboration between the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and CaringToDeliver.com, a website that shows what local restaurants offer, where they deliver, and what local companies and businesses are doing to help everyone in this time of need. Rob Kaiser, publisher of the GWBJ, came up with the idea, teaming with Michelle Brouse, one of the co-founders of CaringToDeliver.com.
“I saw a story about a woman in Washington, DC who started to raise money to buy meals from local restaurants and deliver them to healthcare providers who are on the front lines of dealing with this,” Kaiser said. “I thought it was a brilliant idea. So we reached out to Michelle’s group. We’ve been seeing all the great work they’ve been doing online to help the local restaurants and said why don’t we partner on this.”
Kaiser used the infrastructure of the publication’s ongoing Healthcare Heroes program, usually done in November, and added Michelle’s restaurant connections. They started a gofundme page called MealsForHeroes.com with the goal of $9,000, which will buy $300 worth of meals or gift certificates from a local restaurant every day in April, and deliver them to healthcare practitioners and first responders. The page launched Monday night, and by Tuesday afternoon it had already reached two-thirds of the goal.
“To see this initiative just take off in such a short period of time, and to provide the first responders and the healthcare workers, the ones who are really giving their lives right now to help our community, and the local business that also are struggling, to bring them together in such a way is just phenomenal,” Brouse said. “It really brings home the true message of really what we’re all about and what we want the message of Wilmington to be.”
The effort has received donations from $25 to several hundred dollars, and plans to buy the meals from a long list of restaurants Brouse’s website has featured in the Wilmington-area.
“We wanted to make sure a diverse group of restaurants, all of whom are struggling right now,” Kaiser said. “Hopefully we give them a little bit of revenue at this time, and they really just see the appreciation that people really want to do what they can to help them get through this period.”
“Everyone knows someone who owns a local business or is involved in a local business,” Brouse said. “They also know a healthcare worker or a doctor or a nurse, someone who is involved in the healthcare community around here. There’s just so much that is connected in this community that I feel that we’re impacting or trying to help in a way that we can.”