After launching April 1, SupportSpaCity has raised approximately $15,000 for local businesses and has given out $3,950 in grocery gift cards to families in need.
SupportSpaCity is a "buy one, give one" community relief program for those struggling during the pandemic, provided by The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, The Hot Springs Area Community Foundation, and the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic.
The program allows local businesses to sell gift cards, and for every dollar made, it is matched in grocery gift cards for local families in financial crisis. The gift cards are purchased with a fund from HSACF. During the first week, 86 businesses registered, 66 families applied and 33 families were assisted, Joyce Whitfield, executive director of HSACF, said.
Whitfield said the program has been "extremely successful" so far, but it is currently lacking people applying for grocery gift card assistance.
"We know there's people out there who could use this assistance, it's just people having knowledge of the program and for them to go ahead and make their applications," she said.
Whitfield said in a news release that HSACF is prepared to award over $27,000 in grocery assistance cards with additional contributions "coming in daily."
"We'd love to see this fund continue to grow and expect that it will," she said in the release. "Those of us who haven't directly been affected are stepping up and helping those who have."
Whitfield told The Sentinel-Record they hope to continue to match funds as the program continues.
"At this point, we have more in donations than we have people applying for the gift cards," she said. "We're trying to get the word out to those who would qualify to go ahead and apply. But if the business cards succeed the amount we collected, then yes we would try and find the additional matching funds, but right now we have a cushion in there."
According to the release, applications submitted by local employees who have lost their jobs or had a partial reduction in employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are screened and approved by staff and volunteers from CCMC.
"Selections for next week's group of grocery assistance gift cards has already begun," the release reads. "Each Wednesday during the program, checks will be mailed to the businesses for the gift card purchases along with grocery assistance gift cards to the local citizens who have been approved during that week."
To purchase local business gift cards or to make a donation to the HSACF matching assistance funds, visit supportspacity.com/. Checks can be mailed to Hot Springs Area Community Foundation, #SupportSpaCity, P.O. Box 56, Hot Springs, AR 71902.
Local on 04/11/2020