When the COVID-19 pandemic left Midwest businesses and institutions scrambling to adapt, many used their special skills and resources to fill needs in the community. We wish we could recognize all such efforts, but we wanted to share some of our favorites.
Populace Coffee Roasters
Populace Coffee Roasters
| Credit: Courtesy of Populace Coffee Roasters

These businesses were recognized in the July/August 2020 issue of Midwest Living.

Populace Coffee Roasters, Bay City, Michigan Looking for a way to help its hospitality partners, such as Le Detroit Macaron, Rose’s Fine Food and Sister Pie, Populace decided to invite customers to buy bags of coffee on behalf of favorite restaurants. Half the revenue of each Populace Support Bag goes to a partner. populace.coffee

Box of masks
Masks from Minnesota Opera
| Credit: Courtesy of Minnesota Opera

Minnesota Opera, Minneapolis Through Sew to Support, scene and costume shop staff, aided by volunteers, have sewn more than 10,000. masks for back-line health-care workers, senior living facilities, veterinary clinics and blood banks. mnopera.org

The Tandem
The Tandem
| Credit: Courtesy of The Tandem

The Tandem, Milwaukee Feeling called to action in a crisis, this bike-theme restaurant abruptly shifted gears from its plan to serve paying customers curbside and via delivery. Instead, The Tandem started feeding people for free. On the first day, 85 meals went out the door. Two days later, the total was 200. By mid-May, it grew to more than 450. In addition to families already food insecure, the free meals draw laid-off wage workers, jobless service-industry employees, and neighbors delivering to people in quarantine. The plan is to keep cooking free meals for any Milwaukeean in need as long as the food and money hold out. tandemmke.com

Boot Hill Distillery
Boot Hill Distillery
| Credit: Beau Knight Media

Boot Hill Distillery, Dodge City, Kansas In just days, Boot Hill switched from making spirits to hand sanitizer. The first batch yielded 2,500 4-ounce bottles. By mid-May, they’d made 171,000 3-ounce bottles and hundreds of 2.5-gallon jugs. You can order online; proceeds help pay employees and fund sanitizer donations to front-line workers. boothilldistillery.com

Spreading Sunshine

A special shout-out for efforts that lift the spirits of front-line workers, the old and the young.

Dolce Bakery The Kansas City favorite delivers Care Packages for the Front Line to local doctors, nurses, first responders, hospital support staff and grocery-store employees. Bundles include baked goods, handwritten notes and, occasionally, prized coffee beans from Broadway Roasting Company. Go online to donate a package for $25 (or more). dolcebakes.com

Lucy’s Flowers And Gifts This small florist in Burbank, Illinois, makes it easy to brighten the day of older residents battling isolation and depression—some haven’t seen loved ones in months. For $25, you can donate flowers that will be sent to a local senior community, hospice or elderly resident. Donations help keep the shop open too. lucys-flowers.com

Childserve Playdates on Zoom, virtual scavenger hunts, and telehealth therapy appointments are a few ways this Iowa nonprofit has been helping children with special health-care needs from a safe distance—and providing much-needed respite and support for parents now spending more time at home with their kids. childserve.org