By ALLISON PALMER
Small businesses are what make communities thrive, and the Love -19 campaign wants to help support the owners of those small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Love -19 is a campaign created by 20 mortgage agents across Canada who wanted to spread love to small businesses. Their mission is to help small businesses while their doors are closed so they can be able to re-open in the near future.
“If everyone does their part just to support a little bit here and there, it would make such a huge difference,” Sylvia Ho said.
Ho, a mortgage agent in Toronto for the past 20-years, is one of the ambassadors for Love -19 in the Toronto/East York area.
She joined the campaign because she said she noticed many small businesses had to close. “My heart goes out to these little stores, like how are they going to survive,” Ho said.
An East York resident, Ho said she wanted to do something to help the many small businesses in the area.
“As I got to know East York a little bit more, I started joining more Facebook groups,” Ho said. She said after joining these groups people would write about local businesses that are offering specials, or other ways to serve their customers during the pandemic.
“It’s the small businesses that make the neighbourhood and create the culture,” Ho said.
To kick off the campaign, Ho posted a video on Facebook asking people to share their favourite local businesses and the responses were overwhelming.
Every week Ho purchases a gift card from the company that is being supported for that week. Customers and supporters then enter a draw through a website Ho created for LOVE -19 and a winner is selected every Friday.
Nominations for businesses are also done through the same website which can be found at https://sylvia.love-19.com/
On May 1, Ho selected the first winner. The winner was given a $50 gift card for Glama Gals Kids Spa. So far, Ho has helped three businesses with this method and will continue to do so for at least 16 more weeks.
Ho said she currently has two people who have sponsored the local campaign: Ianiv Lowy an IT business owner in East York and Susan Gucci, a well-known real estate agent in East Toronto. Together they make the purchase of the gift cards to support the local businesses.
“It’s all about community right now, and it’s all about supporting one another,” Ho said.