If there’s a bright spot in the world of coronavirus, it’s a renewed sense of community. Some Midwest businesses—even those that have had to close—are taking this opportunity to organize food or money donations.

By Ginger Crichton
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Seven Sundays, a Minneapolis muesli maker, noticed a surge in online orders in mid-March. The company decided to donate all proceeds from orders placed on their website through April 10 to The Sheridan Story, a nonprofit that helps food-insecure families when children aren’t in school.

“We feel that they are in the very best position to make a large and meaningful impact by serving the most vulnerable families during this uncharted time,” said Hannah Barnstable, cofounder of Seven Sundays.  “Our goal is to impact 500 families over the next month.  Unlike so many other small businesses, to whom our hearts go out, Seven Sundays has not yet been hit hard because the demand for shelf-stable, nutrient-dense packaged foods remains high.”

Seven Sundays is just one of the Midwest businesses that are stepping up to help communities deal with the devastation of coronavirus.

In Kansas City, Missouri, The Rieger had to close its well-regarded restaurant for now but decided to open Crossroads Community Kitchen “to serve our neighbors, guests and staff meals, to-go only, from 4-6 p.m. daily, on a pay-as-you’re-able-basis.” Both food and money donations are being accepted to help with the effort; see their Instagram feed for more details.

In Des Moines, local business owner Ted Hawley, owner of Beer Can Alley, The Exchange and HUSH, wanted to support his employees who are currently out of work because of business closures. He teamed up with a screen printer for a t-shirt fundraiser. “One hundred percent of our profits are going to go directly to our employees just to help them buy milk, buy diapers, do whatever you need to do to survive,’ Hawley told WHOtv.

Family-owned Italian restaurant Red Rose in College Hill, Ohio, has been making carry-out bags for kids and families from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays (and also does carry-out and delivery for regular orders from 4 to 10 p.m.). “This endeavor is beyond description,” one Facebook fan wrote. “Thank you for your kindness and generosity and goodness. It will not be forgotten.” More information is on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Michigan Bread, a major supplier of bread to restaurants in the state, donated extra bread to local charities and seniors when restaurants shut down.

“I just want to help people,” partner Mike Sanfilippo told FOX 2 Detroit. “I want to help the economy get through what we’re struggling with.”

Some Midwest distilleries, like Duluth-based Vikre, are giving away free sanitizer made with their alcohol to those who can't find it elsewhere. Vikre accepts donations for the sanitizer and puts the money toward grocery cards for their employees affected by the cocktail room's closure. In Kansas, Dodge City's Boot Hill Distillery is working through state and federal guidelines to also make free sanitizer available. Iowa's Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery teamed with Eco Lips founder and Cedar Rapids resident Steve Shriver to distribute free hand sanitizer to individuals who can't find it in stores; Cedar Ridge also is making larger containers for commercial use. Check out their Facebook page for more details. Canton, Ohio's Gervasi Vineyard is also gearing up to produce hand sanitizer.

“Beneath the worry, " Seven Sundays wrote on their Instagram feed, "we feel a sense of hope forming that our communities (neighborhoods, social, and industry) will come together to help each other during this challenging time and positive changes will come out of all this.⁠”

Editorial assistant Cheyann Neades contributed to research for this story.