Families and businesses alike are struggling as the pandemic continues. Pitt’s retail stores are participating in a program designed to help both. The University Store on Fifth, the Pitt Shop, and Maggie & Stellas Cards & Gifts are among nearly two dozen companies participating in a gift card program designed to support the pandemic-hit Oakland shops and restaurants while benefiting the Greater Pittsburgh community Food Bank to help community members in need.
The Oakland business district, which borders the University of Pittsburgh campus, has a variety of shops, restaurants, and small businesses that add to the ambience of the Pittsburgh University District.
It is usually busy with traffic from Pitt and neighboring university communities, as well as visitors and staff from nearby hospitals, museums, and cultural attractions.
But with many faculties, university staff, and students working and studying from home, and many people restricting contacts and avoiding the crowds, Oakland businesses have suffered.
The Shop2Help Oakland program, launched by the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID) in early October, encourages individuals, including those who are less than usual in Oakland, to purchase a gift card to support their favorite businesses.
Businesses get a boost and buyers get a deal: a $ 35 gift card for $ 25.
The neighbors also get meals. The participating companies determine a portion of each sale for the grocery bank. To date, more than 15,500 meals have been donated.
“To support community members during this challenging time, the University of Pittsburgh retail stores are proud to partner with regional organizations in the Oakland Business Improvement District’s gift card return program,” said Monica Rattigan, executive director of University Stores.
“With the purchase of every $ 25 gift card at Maggie & Stella, The Pitt Shop, and University Store in the fifth locations, Pitt will donate 25 meals to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in addition to offering shoppers a $ 10 gift card bonus. ” She said.
Georgia Petropoulos, General Manager of OBID, said, “From franchises to family-owned businesses and everyone in between, our business world is made up of some of the most inspiring individual owners, employees, partners and customers. You have all shown unprecedented perseverance, compassion, resilience, and unity over the past few months, and have worked tirelessly to continue to serve the community safely and to the best of your ability, even though the difficulties are beyond their control. “
The program is made possible in part by a July 2020 grant granted to OBID by the Richard King Mellon Foundation to fund a multi-tiered effort in support of businesses in Oakland adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without the support of our Foundation Master and our community partners, who have blessed us with this opportunity and are grateful for the continued support of our entire Oakland community, we would not have been able to realize programs like the Shop2Help Oakland Gift Card Program to help us to its fullest Realize potential, ”said Petropoulos.