(Baltimore County, Maryland: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- 3/29/2020)
Coalition of Baltimore County businesses and charities launch”Baltimore County Together” campaign in support of COVID-19 emergency response efforts.
Leaders from throughout the private sector in Baltimore County have joined forces to launch a charitable campaign being called “Baltimore County Together.”
The campaign is operating through an independent 501(C)3 specifically for the emergency response and powered through an online resource that offers a variety of features to better connect the community with resources being organized by the government, local businesses, and charities. The website includes a resource directory for businesses and organizations offering support throughout the county, a job and volunteer board to help organize people looking to work or help, and an informational portal that connects to the latest information from government and other leaders in the area. Residents can sign up to volunteer or request support directly through the tool.
One of the first focuses of the campaigns is the launch of a network of “pop-up markets” that will provide groceries and other essential supplies at locations in each district throughout the county. The website offers an online shopping portal that provides for bulk sized orders through business partners. The first “pop-up market” is live now, and allows individuals throughout the county to order weekly fresh produce kits. The produce kits are being provided by local company Keany Produce, who are making the boxes available for the low-cost of $20 to support with food scarcity and financial insecurity during the crisis. The charity is also accepting donations and providing a financial assistance form so that those in need can request free resource kits being underwritten by private donations.
The website will facilitate the organization of orders and pick-up appointments, where volunteers will oversee the distribution of the boxes in business parking lots throughout the county. To help with social distancing concerns, the tool will help coordinate the ability for orders to be distributed in car-lines in the parking lots where participants simply show their receipt on their phone and have the boxes loaded into their cars without having to exchange credit cards, cash or otherwise come in contact with others.
“This is an incredible testament to the strength of the community here in Baltimore County in bringing this tool together,” said Tim Bojanowski, owner of business partner Zest which is helping to organize the campaign. “We believe it will not only help the government workers busting their tails to work through this, but also support thousands during this crisis in connecting to volunteer and job opportunities, businesses who can help, and special programs to support in these uncertain times.”
Bojanowski said the response from local businesses has been remarkable, with people around the county promptly and capably answering the call to help organize. Commercial property owners and operators like Merritt Properties, MacKenzie Commercial, Celebree Learning Schools, and Planet Fitness are acting as the hosts of these “pop-up” markets to ensure there are available locations in close proximity to as many people throughout the county as possible.
“Support for our community has always been our core value,” said Scott Dorsey, CEO of Merritt Properties. “This responsibility is magnified in a crisis.”
The tool provides a very easy to use news and update portal that connects to federal, state and local government news updates, but also affords the ability for community stakeholders to submit their own information into intuitive categories. There is also a community generated online resource directory that as individuals and organizations submit their information as a resource partner, will populate the director in a categorized and geographically sorted way to help the community search for services and goods that they need.
“We have been inundated with folk both looking to help and looking for work,” said Bojanowski. “We’re populating that information into a ‘job and volunteer’ board that will allow folks to both post opportunities and digitally connect with opportunities posted.”
County Council representatives have been working to coordinate district level support, something they referred to as an urgent need as the County Government works to expand resources beyond the limited locations currently being provided.
“County government resources are obviously very limited while the demand is growing very quickly, and there is a void in my district in particular” said David Marks, County Councilman for District 5 covering between Towson and Perry Hall. “Support like this from the private sector is essential and will allow volunteers across our jurisdiction to lend a hand and for needy households to obtain the support they need.”
County Council Members Todd Crandell and Cathy Bevins echoed Marks’ emphasis for the need for support from the private sector.
“”Difficult times bring out the best in people,” said Crandell. “Residents throughout Baltimore County want to help, but it’s incredibly important that there are resources and leadership in place to organize those efforts so people can better work together. This tool will support that.”
“I’m so pleased to see so many groups and individuals step up to assist in making sure our neighbors have food,” said Bevins. “Like always, we will continue to take care of one another during this difficult time.”
Reservations for the first “pop-up market” must be made by April 1st in order to participate in the April 4th distribution, which includes 21 locations throughout the county. No orders will be able to be made at the locations in person. Visit www.baltimorecountytogether.org to learn more.