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Donation helps SWFL food bank; credit union assists small businesses’ payrolls

Many businesses and organizations are struggling right now. But others are showing them we are Gulfshore Strong. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos donated $100 million dollars to the Feeding America Network that Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida is part of. And a local bank is helping businesses get their payroll loans.

The financial support is going to help the community in two major ways. One, it’s going to help Harry Chapin Food Bank provide more food to stock pantries of those in need. And it’s also going to help small businesses put money into their employee’s wallets.

In a time where every little bit helps, businesses are helping each other in big ways.

Harry Chapin Food bank runs 12 mobile food pantries throughout Southwest Florida every week, with with a decreasing stream of food and an increasing need.

“It carries a pretty significant price tag because a lot of the food sources we’re having to go to right now are much more expensive than normal,” said Richard LeBer, the president and CEO of the food bank.

But, with a slice from Bezos’ donation, Harry Chapin Food Bank can breathe a small sigh of relief.

“We are looking forward to receiving our piece of that, whatever that may be and using that to help source and distribute food throughout our area,” LeBer said.

Harry Chapin Food Bank is also offering multiple drive-thru mobile food banks, which is available to everyone, every day this week.

You can find a location serving food near you at the Harry Chapin website foodbank locater, here.

Here are this week’s drive-thru distributions:

Tuesday, April 7

  • 10 a.m. to noon: Boys and Girls Club of Immokalee,1155 Roberts Ave W, Immokalee.
  • 10 a.m. to noon: First Baptist Church, 130 Connecticut St, Fort Myers Beach.

Wednesday, April 8

  • 10 a.m. to noon: Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Pkwy, Naples.
  • 10 a.m. to noon: Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 Bridge St, LaBelle.
  • 1 to 3 p.m: Church of the Nazarene, 6781 Bayshore Rd., North Fort Myers.

Thursday, April 9

  • 10 a.m. to noon: Bonita Lions Club,10346 Pennsylvania Ave, Bonita Springs.
  • 10 a.m. to noon: Sacred Heart Church, 211 W Charlotte Ave, Punta Gorda.

Friday, April 10

  • 10 a.m. to noon: Boys and Girls Club of Naples, 7500 Davis Blvd, Naples.
  • 10 a.m. to noon: Caloosa Middle School, 610 S. Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral.
  • 10 a.m. to noon: Florida SouthWestern State College, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers.

Also, small businesses in our area are getting a helping hand too. Achieva Credit Union is offering the payroll assistance loan program to keep small businesses on their feet.

“These programs are actually going to enable a lot of businesses who would otherwise struggle or potentially even go out of business, to stay in business and be around to pay their employees,” said Jennifer Galley, the COO of Achieva Credit Union.

With so many small businesses shutting their doors and seeking help, the demand is so high that other banks and credit unions have already reached their cap.

“Applications are growing by the minute; however, we have had hundreds of requests for information,” Gally said.

“There are people who I believe have already started to taper off on what they can offer,” Galley said. “They may be hitting some volume restrictions, so they have said that we are no longer going to offer the program at this time.”

But Achieva is keeping its program running strong for all small businesses to be that life-line of support that many need to survive. Achieva says small business owners can find the loan application on their website and should apply regardless of if they are members of the credit union.

LeBer told is they do not know how much money they will get from the Bezos donation, but they are expecting to find out in the coming days.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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