BALTIMORE — Residents in Canton have started a neighborhood gift card exchange to help struggling restaurants who were hit with new restrictions announced Wednesday.
Canton resident Lindsey Fox is spearheading the effort. She said it's in response to the mayor's executive order to shutdown indoor and outdoor dining starting Friday.
Fox, who has built relationships with bar and restaurants owners in the area, said she's heard and seen the disappointment from business owners after the announcement.
"When you hear a friend or you look on Facebook and you see somebody reach out like I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t know how I'm going to pay my bills, I don’t know how I'm going to get through the winter without work, you just think how can I help, how can I help this situation," said Fox.
She mulled ideas on how she can help and came up with the neighborhood gift card exchange.
It essentially works like a secret Santa where you buy a $25 gift card from your favorite local restaurant, and then put in a sealed self-addressed envelope. Those envelopes are then shuffled and mailed out.
"We’re hoping a lot of the businesses use it to really help out their employees with the money that they’re missing on tips," she said.
Paul Sellers, who used to be a bartender in Canton, is helping Fox with the gift card exchange.
“A lot of the people in the service industry are week to week," he said. "You depend on that money to pay your bills, feed yourself and feed your family. Right now, the times are tough.”
Sellers said if people want to help, they can drop off the gift cards at The Chasseur and Masters Title and Escrow in Canton.
He said they've already received gifts cards, adding hundreds of people are interested in participating.
"We don’t want to come out to Canton Square to see three or four bars have shut down because they can’t afford to survive," Sellers said. "So any little bit we can do to help the bar owners and the people that actually work at the bars to get through this are what we are trying to do.”
“We’re all in this community together and we all need to support each other right now," Fox added.
Fox and Sellers said the exchange will go on until next Friday.