Coronavirus: Marco Patriots raise funds for hospitality industry workers
A volunteer-based non-profit focused on disaster response is making the day brighter for dozens who work in restaurants, bars and hotels in Marco Island but were recently laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Marco Patriots have raised over $6,500 as of Sunday evening through online fundraisers and a generous donor who gifted $1,000.
"Our focus is on hospitality workers, the very people who make visiting and living on the island so enjoyable," wrote Erin Mia Milchman, board president of the Marco Patriots. "It's limited to individuals that work on the island but not limited to those who live on the island."
Patriots will be giving $50 gift cards to all accepted applicants, according to Milchman.
Milchman wrote many of them depend on the revenue generated during high season.
"The wonderful people who make your stay here when you visit enjoyable and tend to all the locals12 months a year are now experiencing a complete halt to all income," Milchman wrote. "That's going to be devastating and it's not their fault."
"They are the very people who keep this island running and we need to surround them with support now."
On March 20, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order directing restaurants and other food-service establishments to close dining rooms and use their kitchens solely for takeout and delivery purposes through May 8.
After Gov. DeSantis signed the order, Naples and Fort Myers restaurants laid off hundreds, according to Naples Daily News.
Patriots help nearby hospitals and a local foodbank
A team of women rallied together to create face masks for hospital workers, according to Milchman.
"Marco Patriot Stitchers have already handmade dozens of masks for NCH," Milcman wrote. "They're hard at work and I know that dozens will turn into hundreds very quickly."
On Facebook, the NCH Healthcare system requested people to donate masks 'of any kind,' gowns and hand sanitizer.
Patriots are also delivering toilet paper free of charge to anyone in need. They recently hand-delivered it to the Moorings Park retirement community in Naples.
The Army National Guard commander of a COVID-19 testing site explains the need for masks that actually work. USA TODAY
"We drop off the individually wrapped rolls in a bag at their doorstep and then text them when we leave," Milchman wrote. "We also have a committee that's formed to assist high-risk individuals."
On Monday, the non-profit also wrote a $500 check to a local food pantry.
"Our Daily Bread Food Pantry helps hundreds of people with groceries to feed their families every day," Patriots wrote on its Facebook page. "With so many layoffs, that number is increasing exponentially."
"We can together help them stomp out hunger."
Hospitality industry workers affected by COVID-19 layoffs can apply by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief explanation including the name of the venue where they work and, if possible, paperwork evidencing recent employment. Marco Patriots will contact employers prior to issuing the $50 gift card.
Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.