Another week, another batch of ‘feel good’ stories happening during the coronavirus pandemic

This is not a story about what could have been done better, but what is being done right. And you can find what’s being done right by looking to local businesses.

The support and love that lives in the Tampa Bay community is overwhelming. We are blessed to live in a community where people truly want to help, and support, one another. And we at TBBW LOVE to hear, and share, these stories. Keep sharing, keep caring. The feedback from the region has been nothing short of amazing! People are reading, and ingesting, the positive news: with a sigh of relief.

We are in this together!

We will continue to bring you these “round-ups” of what is being done right here in Tampa Bay!

Amplify Clearwater partnered with Papa John’s Pizza in Clearwater to feed 100 ER first responders at Baycare’s Morton Plant Hospital.


BSWANKY, a luxury handbag retailer in Sarasota, partnered with PARC to help raise funds for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

PARC first reached out to BSWANKY when it discovered the retailer was using its resources and machinery to make face masks for senior living facilities and rehabilitation centers.

To help support PARC, BSWANKY donated one of their most popular bags to help raise funds for the organization, which was auctioned off.

Gretchen Bauer

“We believe that facing the effects of the coronavirus is not all about profits and job loss, but about businesses coming together to help people here in our hometown,” said Gretchen Bauer, CEO of BSWANKY, in a statement.

The handbag donated was valued at $1,200.


MyArea Network, a Tampa-based tech company, launched a free deals and vouchers program that has no upfront cost to participating restaurants, bars, retail and event venues. The program is financially designed to help them drive sales, and cash flow, to minimize the impact and changes in consumer behavior from the effects of the coronavirus, according to a statement.

“As travel and tourism come to a halt, it creates a rippling effect with lost wages for many workers,” said Scott Conlon, president and CEO of MyArea Network, in a statement. “We want to support the communities and help alleviate the financial burden to both the businesses and locals.”


Jeff and Penny Vinik and the Vinik Family Foundation donated $300,000 to Metropolitan Ministries to help alleviate the suffering of Tampa Bay families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And have since announced an additional $700,000 donation, bringing their total contribution to $1 million to the organization.

“There is an immediate, crucial need to help families stay above water between now and the time we can reopen our businesses and bring back our employees. Metropolitan Ministries has been outstanding at helping meet the basic needs of our neighbors who are struggling through the COVID-19 response. We are incredibly thankful to the leadership and staff for their tireless efforts as Tampa Bay works to address this crisis,” Said Jeff and Penny Vinik, in a joint press statement.

This leadership gift comes on the heels of a generous week of giving to Metropolitan Ministries inspired by COX Media Group’s Feed it Forward virtual food drive, where more than $265,000 was raised to support the Ministries’ hunger relief efforts, the statement said.

In a separate announcement, Thaddeus Bullard (WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil) and his Bullard Family Foundation and NFL quarterback Jameis Winston announced a combined $50,000 gift to Metropolitan Ministries to provide meals to homebound families throughout Tampa Bay.

Winston also teamed up with Dr. Scott Kelley to develop a toll-free hotline (844-Test-Covid). To provide answers to questions about the virus. He announced the hotline via his Twitter account.


Port Tampa Bay donated more than 1,000 rolls of toilet paper to Feeding Tampa Bay so that the organization could distribute the much-needed supplies to its network of food banks throughout the region.

The port was able to secure the toilet paper through their building supplier. A majority of Port Tampa Bay staff are currently working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly reducing the need for toilet paper in the port’s administration building.

“Port Tampa Bay strives to be a good community partner and wanted to help our neighbors during this crisis. I am so pleased we were able to secure this donation to make life easier for those in need,” said Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay CEO and president, in a statement.

The port also provided rolls of toilet paper to staff in need. Port Tampa Bay staff are considered essential employees by the Department of Homeland Security and have continued to work during the pandemic to support the critical infrastructure needs of our community and region. (Photo above)


ThreeBridge Solutions, a business consulting firm in Tampa, is offering a free webinar designed to help those looking for work to “ace” a virtual interview now, or down the road. The “Building Career Resilience” webinar series is on April 24 at 1 p.m. Register here.


The Florida Polytechnic University Student Government Association created Phund-a-Phoenix, an emergency fund to help students during this time of uncertainty and financial burden.

“We understand that this is a very hard time for students and their families and we wanted to find a way to help,” said Student Government Association President, Ryan Perez, in a statement.

After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all in-person events on campus and students shifted to remote instruction, SGA members decided to use their suddenly available event funds to benefit students right away. The SGA allocated $10,000 to launch the fund and can add another $10,000 if necessary, Perez said.

The fund awards grants to students who are facing emergency-related expenses that may impede their academic progress. This may include money spent for unanticipated travel, replacement of medications, emergency childcare due to extended school closures and additional technology requirements. More information here.


Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa have asked the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, the designated economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, to work in tandem with the economic development staffs of the city, and the county, to assemble an Economic Recovery Task Force. This Task Force will work swiftly to develop an economic recovery plan, and strategic recommendations for local elected leadership, to provide initial recommendations within the next 30 days.


As Hillsborough County Public Schools continues to adapt to changes surrounding COVID-19, Hillsborough Education Foundation has remained dedicated to its mission to strengthen public education—even during this unprecedented time.

Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell said her team is focused on helping to provide digital resources and supplies to some of the county’s most vulnerable students, so they are not left behind due to a lack of resources and an increased digital divide.

“This is a challenging time for all families, but especially those who have limited resources, lack of ability to purchase supplies as well as lack of technology,” Jowell said. “We feel there is going to be a gap in technology resources to our students.”

In addition to addressing the issue of digital equity for students who are now e-learning, Hillsborough Education Foundation also set out to provide students with necessary school supplies.

“We are adapting to make sure we still have a delivery system,” Jowell said. “We had to close our Teaching Tools Resource Center for those reasons of limitations of crowds but we’re adapting and going on the fly to make sure students get what they need. Our highest priority are those highest needs schools.”

To make a contribution that will help ensure at-risk students have the resources and supplies they need to prevent a further divide in the achievement gap and help Hillsborough Education Foundation continue to advance our mission visit


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