For area small businesses this time of uncertainty is challenging, but one Facebook group is working to help lessen the burden.

In response to restaurants only being able to serve takeout or offer delivery in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Johnstown resident Jennifer Reese created the Johnstown Pay It Forward – People Helping People page.

The goal is to order food daily from a small business and then have that food delivered to first responders and medical professionals.

“We were thinking that maybe we could do something where we could pull money together and send it to local businesses each day and that’s how this took off,” Reese said. “I started the page March 18 and by the third hour the flood gates opened and people starting messaging.”

The group is closing in on 1,000 members.

“This is something that people can do and it’s really making a difference in the town,” Reese said. “Many of these people are relatives, friends and neighbors and we don’t want to see these small businesses go under.”

Group members are sharing ideas on ways to help others and offering suggestions on which businesses to support and organizations that should receive a meal.

A list is posted daily showing the business the group is buying from that day and who will receive the delivery.

“If this can help one of these small businesses not go out of business then we’ve done our job,” Reese said.

To date, the group has collected over $5,000.

Those who would like to donate can do so through PayPal by searching Reese’s email address at jcveykusreese@gmail.com or by sending a check to Jennifer Reese, 1743 Frankstown Road, Johnstown, Pa. 15902.

“Our donations have ranged from $10 to $250 that people have sent and the kindness has been just humbling, overwhelming and heartwarming,” Reese said. “We’re supposed to be this depressed community but yet so many people are willing to reach out and help.”

She said in the beginning she thought they’d receive a couple donations, make a few deliveries and that would be it.

“It just keeps growing so we’ll do this as long as possible,” Reese said. “If the quarantine ends and we still have money left what I’d like to do is help out the local food pantries.”

Those interested can request to join the group by searching Johnstown Pay it Forward – People Helping People on Facebook. 

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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