A2 Neighbors and A2 Helps are two new organizations recently created in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Both were established with the goal of supporting small businesses — especially restaurants — while showing appreciation for frontline healthcare workers.
A local couple — who prefer to remain anonymous — recently launched A2 Neighbors. The site uses public donations to purchase meals made by area restaurants that are then delivered to frontline healthcare workers. A2 Neighbors is coordinating with Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor VA, and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. In the first 48 hours, the site raised more than $4,000.
“We’re going to try to fill orders of about 25-50 folks at a time because that’s usually a shift for the ER or other COVID-19 units that they’ve formed,” said one of the organizers. “Even the custodial staff who are putting themselves at risk in a stressful situation could use a thank you, too.”
Owner of Jerusalem Garden, Ali Ramlawi, who also sits on Ann Arbor City Council, said he was happy to join the effort and connected the organizers with Ann Arbor SPARK to help with the donation side of the project.
The A2 Helps platform is connecting generous donors to small businesses and hospital systems workers simultaneously.
Initially thought of by Cahoots co-founder Joe Malcoun, the website allows donors to give to frontline workers who can then purchase electronic gift cards to small businesses in Washtenaw County.
For each $100 donated, a code for a $100 e-gift card is sent to a healthcare or hospital systems worker as a sign of appreciation. Already, more than $160,000 has been donated through A2 Helps.
“A2 Helps is more than just our name, it’s the mantra of the entire Ann Arbor community. Ever since I moved here, help has always been a few steps away,” said Jack Virag, who volunteers for the copywriting and marketing aspects of the platform.