The coronavirus has left millions of workers in our country and thousands in our county without work (and pay!) as much of our economy has shut down. Yet, many tipped workers and hourly wage employees are still facing the same bills (rent, student loans, medical bills, car payments, groceries, etc) that they always face. Meanwhile, laid-off workers are struggling to apply for unemployment aid as government websites crash and phone lines have hours-long waits. Considering that 40% of Americans struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense, many in our community are not just anxious about health and safety right now, but are also facing financial hardship.
The resiliency of our country often comes out in times of crisis as neighbors and communities band together to collectively weather the storm. One amazing way that this is happening in the US right now is direct giving; in which generous people with the means to do so make peer-to-peer payments using payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal directly to unemployed people losing shifts and tips who could ill-afford to be missing their pay. On the Internet right now, people in need are sharing stories, posting screenshots of their upcoming or overdue bills, and providing their venmo info; and people are helping them! Even Barack Obama tweeted about this new approach to giving.
So, let's do this Howard County! If you are losing wages because of coronavirus, concerned about an upcoming bill, and are bold enough to share, tell us your story in Facebook comments or a Tweeter reply, and provide your Venmo username. I'll pledge to personally give at least 5 of you a $20 tip. Don't think about it as a handout, but rather the tip I would have otherwise given in normal times. Perhaps other generous people will join me in doing giving out a #HoCoCoronavirusTip.
And for those of you looking to donate but prefer to give to a local non-profit that has established an emergency fund supporting our community, please check out coronavirus relief funds set up by the Community Foundation of Howard County, United Way of Central Maryland, or the Women's Giving Circle of Howard County.