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Tucson Together: How to Help Your Community In a Time of a Crisis

For most of us, the last few weeks proved to be a stressful and confusing period as entire communities tried to adjust to the changes caused by the coronavirus outbreak. As social distancing and stay-at-home measures flipped our lives upside down, it’s forced us to adapt to a new reality.

In unprecedented moments like these, it’s more important than ever that we rely on one another and rally together as a community. Even as most of us find ourselves stuck in our homes, we don’t have to feel powerless. There are several steps we can take to ensure our community remains strong in the face of crisis. Here are just a few:

Purchase gift cards from your favorite local business

Many of our small businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors or pivot their operations to fit the current climate. But you can continue to support your favorite businesses by purchasing gift cards to be redeemed at a later date. Gift cards provide crucial revenue during this difficult time to the small businesses hit hardest by the shutdown.

If helping your community isn’t enough, you also get to redeem your gift cards once they reopen to enjoy a shopping spree or a nice meal. We invite you to visit the website of your favorite local business to purchase a gift card or search this list of restaurants and Fourth Avenue merchants.

Donate to local nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations have been some of the hardest-hit victims of our economic shutdown as increased demand and a lack of volunteers continue to strain an already burdened sector.

The needs are many among our diverse group of nonprofits. This includes calls for cash and food from organizations like the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Interfaith Community Services, or the supply needs for organizations like Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse and Sister Jose Women's Center.

If you can’t spare money, you can donate your time to organizations like the Community Food Bank or Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona, who are looking for drivers to deliver meals for elderly residents. If you’re an animal lover, Pima Animal Care Center is looking for emergency fosters for medium and large dogs and animals with medical conditions. Visit the Arizona Daily Star's guide for a more exhaustive list of organizations and their specific needs.

Contribute to local micro-loan funds

This crisis has shown the resilience of our communities and how quickly we can mobilize to help each other. Since the shutdown, various public and private organizations established a series of funds to provide direct aid to the local businesses most affected.

Vantage West is helping raise awareness for a fund established by the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) through sponsoring Tucson Helping Tucson (THT). THT is currently a weekly live stream of local performers, which will culminate in a massive 3-day telethon event showcasing Tucson’s diverse talents. CIC’s fund directly assists struggling businesses in the Tucson area, based on the community’s largest needs. While the main event date is still TBD, you can donate now and tune in Saturdays at 7:00 pm for the live stream.

The largest Arizona-based relief fund, Arizona Together, is a statewide program that connects individuals, community organizations, and small businesses with financial assistance, medical care, and more.

For a more locally-targeted fund, Local First Arizona recently rolled out its Small Business Relief Fund for businesses with up to three employees and less than $250,000 in revenue. The fund prioritizes business owners with children at home and those who depend on their business as a sole source of income.

Order takeout from your favorite restaurants and bars

Nightlife plays a crucial role in the character and culture of a community, which makes it so eerie to see the normally bustling downtown areas look empty on a Friday night. We may not be able to dine-in but many of our restaurants have transitioned to serving take-out, whether you’re craving tacos, burgers, sushi, or salad.

Recreate the restaurant experience at home, create some ambiance, watch a movie, or hold a Zoom dinner date. Amazing food pairs well with anything you choose to do. With the shutdown hitting restaurants and bars particularly hard, it’s up to us to keep our rich culinary traditions alive. Visit this list for open restaurants in Tucson and check out this list of breweries offering to-go service.

Shop online at local businesses

An interesting effect of the crisis has been the ability of our small businesses to adapt quickly to a socially distanced world. Small businesses all over Tucson have come up with virtual methods to meet the needs of their customers in new and unique ways.

Vantage West is giving financial support to Tucson Shops Tucson, a new online shopping portal for local businesses created by Startup Tucson. The portal provides a list of local businesses and allows shoppers to virtually browse through a variety of gift categories.

Some businesses, such as Silver Sea Jewelry took to the web and gave it the full QVC treatment. Others like Let's Sweat are offering online classes, while the Loft Cinema now offers online streams of first-run movies.

For those missing Tucson’s Fourth Avenue vibe, the North Fourth Avenue Merchants Association released a list of area businesses that also offer online shopping. In addition to offering the same great products, most businesses also offer curbside pickup so you can shop and practice social distancing.

We may not know when or if normal life will return or what that will look like. But for now, as always, we as a credit union are embracing our responsibility to support our Members and the need to look out for one another in the greater communities we serve.

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