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Hershey Businesses Receive Grants to Help Get Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

The grants were intended to make up for loss of business revenue during the pandemic.

Five local businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic have received funds raised by the local community.

In May 2020, medical students Connor Corrente and Katie Toth at the Penn State College of Medicine, Adam Clayman at The Hershey Company, and the Downtown Hershey Association partnered to create a virtual 5k in support of small businesses in Hershey that were impacted by the pandemic. After an application process last fall, the virtual 5k funds were donated as grants to twelve businesses that submitted applications:

a-? 110 West, LLC

a-? Au Bon Lieu

a-? Beef Jerky Outlet (Hershey)

a-? Bella Sera Boutique

a-? The Chocolate Avenue Grille

a-? Escape Room Hershey

a-? Knock Knock Boutique

a-? The Shoppe on Chocolate & Calicutts (joint application)0

a-? Simmons Motel

a-? Simply J Boutique

a-? Three Little Birds Boutique

a-? Tropical Smoothie Cafe (Hershey)

The grants were intended to make up for loss of business revenue during the pandemic. From the onset of the pandemic in the spring through the stalling of the tourist season this past summer, many of the businesses situated in downtown Hershey were closed for several months. The recipients of the grants used the funds towards paying rent, payroll and other expenses.

The business owners expressed their gratitude towards the collective support from local residents. Jessica Hughes of Calicutts Spice Co., an artisanal spice shop, said, "Community helping community, we're all in this together! Thank you Hershey for your wonderful support."

The owners faced unexpected challenges as the pandemic impeded their business plans. Knock Knock Boutique had closed in January for renovation in preparation of the shop's sixth anniversary, and Simply J Boutique had received shipments of clothing for the spring season when retail businesses were closed.

Owner Emily Drobnock of Knock Knock Boutique, a shop specializing in costume jewelry, scarves and other trending fashions, participated in the virtual 5k in addition to applying for the grant. She said, "It just meant a lot to me that people in the community saw value in small businesses."

Donna Jefferson, owner of the women's fashion store Simply J Boutique said many of her regular customers reached out to her, and the virtual 5k as a whole symbolized how the local community extended its care. Said Jefferson, "[The grant] represents a community, the Hershey community, and how people come together to help one another and to help small businesses."

When the COVID-19 pandemic first posed unprecedented challenges for local businesses, residents joined together to aid the small businesses of Hershey, which are seen as a staple of the community. The Run for Hershey Virtual 5k was created out of a desire to give back to the town.

Said Mary Papadimitriou, the owner of Escape Room Hershey, "Thank you to the community of Hershey, the Downtown association, and everyone who lives here and supports all the businesses as well as participates in events like the 5k so that businesses that are...really, truly impacted by the pandemic can continue to stay open."

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