The Columbia Restaurant, Edwards Family Foundation and more Tampa Bay area businesses rally during COVID-19 crisis

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!

After launching a supply drive for childcare providers, the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas received help and supplies from businesses and organizations across Pinellas County.


Target and Costco contributed gift cards. Anona United Methodist Church contributed financially. The Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County came through with chlorine, funnels, gloves and gallon jugs to make cleaning solution. And Rob Bowen Design Group supplied spray bottles. (Pictured above)


Big Storm Brewery and 3 Daughters Brewing donated hand sanitizer. Cloth face masks were donated by friends and family. And Burger King provided ELC staff with food while they created 100 “care packs” for 100 childcare providers in Pinellas.


Donations directly support providers who are currently on the front lines every day.


To partner with the ELC on efforts to support providers: contact Rosa Rivera, director of community engagement, at [email protected].


To contribute to the Emergency Childcare Support Fund: visit or text HELPKIDS to 71441.



The Columbia Restaurant set up an Employee Assistance Fund financed by 100 percent of its gift card sales from the time it closed until the end of April. (If you would like to help, please go to and click on the Gift Card tab.)


The University of South Florida Health, Formlabs, a 3D printing company, and Northwell Health, a New York health care provider, successfully produced and tested a 3D printed nasal swab to address emergency shortages that hospitals, and health care teams, may face as testing for COVID-19 increases.

Summer Decker, PhD, sits in her office surrounded by 3D models she help create in USF HealthÕs Department of Radiology in USF Health South Tampa Center for Advanced Healthcare in downtown Tampa. Dr. Decker, the director of imaging research, has been at the forefront of USF Health RadiologyÕs department trailblazing use of 3D modeling in clinical capacities.

Key milestones in testing the swabs were conducted by USF Health faculty researchers, in the Departments of Radiology and Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with Northwell Health, including validation testing (24-hour, 3-day and leeching), and rapid clinical testing at Northwell Health and Tampa General Hospital. All testing showed that the 3D printed nasal swabs perform equally to standard swabs used for testing for COVID-19.

After identifying that nasal swabs for testing COVID-19 were in high demand and extremely limited in supply, a team from the USF Health’s 3D Clinical Applications Division created an initial design, working with Northwell Health and collaborating with Formlabs, to develop prototypes and secure materials for a 3D printed alternative. For one week, the teams worked together to develop a nasal swab prototype and test it in the USF Health and Northwell Health labs. In two days, USF Health and Northwell Health, using Formlabs’ 3D printers and biocompatible, autoclavable resins, developed prototypes. The swabs were tested by clinicians at Northwell Health, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital for patient safety and comfort. Now that clinical validation is complete, 3D printers at USF Health and Northwell Health will produce the swabs and provide them to their patients.


The University Area Community Development Corporation is offering free live, online, closed-group, support sessions for mental wellness and self-care through its Get Moving! program.

Guided by Licensed Cognitive Behavioral Therapist Crystal Clark, these “Coping with the Quarantine” support sessions aim to help residents take care of their minds, bodies and souls during these stressful times.

Clark will address challenges, and answer questions, as well as provide tips for homeschooling, living peacefully with others, dealing with anxiety and depression and more.

The sessions run Thursdays, 6 to 7 p.m. through May 21.

To join the Zoom meeting, visit just prior to start time each Thursday. A Zoom account is not required for participation. For individuals with Zoom accounts, the Meeting ID is 532 239 435.

Please note that each session will close to new participants at 6:15 p.m. Participation is voluntary and confidential. For more information, contact Erica Nelson at [email protected].


The Edwards Family Foundation donated $100,000 to the Meals on Wheels for Kids program.

The funding will allow Meals on Wheels to distribute at least 25,000 meals to children in St. Petersburg who are home and unable to access emergency feeding sites.

The program was launched in March in response to COVID-19 school closures.


Suncoast Credit Union has donated $1 million to provide economic relief to those affected by COVID-19 in the communities the credit union serves in the areas of health care, hunger and education.

While Suncoast has been an active member of the communities it serves, both as a community partner and through the funding of the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, this donation is the first of its size during the credit union’s 86 year history.

“While we are focused on supporting our members financially, we feel a moral obligation to support other basic needs during this very challenging time. We admire and are inspired by other charitable organizations who are providing relief through private donations like ours,” said Suncoast Credit Union President & CEO Kevin Johnson, in a statement. “People are struggling, through no fault of their own, and because of the support of our Board of Directors Suncoast is committed to doing what we can to address these serious needs.”


Crown Automotive Group donated $30,000 to RCS Pinellas to provide meals through the organization’s food bank, and shelter, for domestic violence survivors.

“We’re so appreciative of this gift from Crown Automotive Group,” said Kirk Ray Smith, president and CEO of RCS Pinellas, in a statement. “We can provide safety and security for women and children escaping domestic violence and feed every child, senior, student and family that comes to one of our 75 food banks because of your generosity.”


The Greater St. Petersburg Area EDC launched a talent attraction platform, Become St. Pete. Become St. Pete promotes St. Pete’s major employers, top companies, target industry sectors and real job opportunities with quality of life as a secondary component.

The platform was created with the intent to promote job openings in St. Pete to candidates in strategic locales out-of-market. However, given the current circumstances that are inhibiting many local companies’ ability to grow, the EDC says they are pivoting from the original strategy and are asking local companies to provide them with their current job openings so they can be sure they reach local job seekers.

Jobs can be posted directly at:


The city of Tampa established the One Tampa Relief Now, Rise Together Fund to provide financial relief to eligible small businesses, families and individuals negatively impacted by local COVID-19 orders.

The relief program is an emergency grant focused on the most basic needs — rent and essential utilities – and will provide direct payments for up to one month’s rent or mortgage plus one or more essential utility costs — water, gas, electricity.

Payments will be remitted directly to landlords, mortgagors or TECO, the city said.

Click here for details about eligibility, and other program information. The Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have each made $100,000 contributions to the fund.


In April IT support services provider Atlas Professional Services dropped off a catered Firehouse Subs lunch, at the St. Joseph’s Hospital ER, to support and thank the staff in the Pediatric Emergency Department, Pediatric ICU and a surgical floor that is housing Children’s Hospital patients waiting for pending COVID-19 test results.



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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