[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic.]
YOUNGSTOWN — During the 2020 holiday season, Mahoning Matters introduced a program called “Shop Local! Give Hope!” to encourage readers to buy gift cards from local businesses, with 2 percent of the proceeds to be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and the Salvation Army of Youngstown.
TEMA Roofing Services stepped in and matched those donations.
Local businesses that took part in the initiative were Brilliant Cleaning Services, Coaches Burger and Bar, West Side Bowl, Youngstown Clothing Co, Candywood Wine Cellars, Boardman Printing, Kravitz Delicatessen and Suzanne’s. With the help of TEMA Roofing Services, the first “Shop Local! Give Hope!” program delivered $500 each to Second Harvest Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
TEMA has a philanthropic history with organizations like the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, and Justin Froelich, vice president of sales, said his team was specifically interested in getting involved with “Shop Local! Give Hope!” because the initiative supported organizations through local business sales.
“That was one thing that struck me was, you know, keeping business local, working with family-owned businesses, startups, that sort of thing. Especially with the type of year we [had] going into the holidays,” Froelich said, noting his family’s long-standing support of local businesses.
“I just thought it was a perfect fit and a perfect contribution for TEMA [to] match,” he added.
Major Paul Moore, with the Salvation Army, told Mahoning Matters that the donation went to the organization’s general fund. He added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 65-75 percent of funds collected have gone toward proving food to Valley residents.
“That's the biggest need right now. So we're buying a lot of food from the food bank and also from local vendors,” Moore said. “We give out free lunches and also emergency food boxes. So we're doing that four times a week. That's the biggest need right now.”
Moore said that The Salvation Army is thankful for everyone who participated in Shop Local! Give Hope!
“We were excited to receive the funds obviously. They're a huge help this year, especially with all the COVID needs and COVID issues,” he said. “We were very honored and thrilled to just be a part of it and to know that there's some wonderful businesses and wonderful people in the Valley that are graciously willing to support charities like the Salvation Army and [Second Harvest Food Bank].”
Second Harvest officials also told Mahoning Matters they were grateful to everyone who donated to the “Shop Local! Give Hope!” program.
For Froelich, that was the payoff TEMA had anticipated.
“At the end of the day I think it's important if you want to have a successful local business you really need to contribute back to the community that provides you your living,” he added.