The joke going around about the global pandemic is that our grandparents were called to serve in the war and we’ve been called to sit on our couch. But, being stuck at home leaves me feeling a bit helpless. And I wonder, How can I really help? This morning, my husband had a great idea to start a fundraiser, “because we all wish we could do something to help.” And that got me thinking – there are so many businesses, people, and nonprofits in Omaha that need are help. How can we help?
And, so, this post was born. If you wish there was a way you could help the Omaha community, here’s a proactive guide to helping your Omaha friends and neighbors:
How to support Omaha stores
Oh, I know. It’s tempting to go to Amazon or Target to get everything delivered for free. But you can find most things you need locally, keeping the money local and businesses open.
What are you wanting to buy that you can buy locally?
Games – You can browse the game inventory of Spielbound and purchase online. You can opt for free curbside pick-up or get it delivered. I tried the pick-up option, and it was super easy. You can also order coffee drinks to-go and six-packs with your game order.
Puzzles, games, geeky stuff – City Limits in the Old Market is open and full of the funniest, weirdest stuff you didn’t even know you need. Head to their Facebook page to see some videos of what they have in stock, then call them to place in your order, and they’ll bring it out to the curb for you.
Toys – Fat Brain Toys’ storefront is closed but you can still order awesome kids’ toys and games online at FatBrainToys.com. And even better, order it by 3 p.m. and they’ll ship it the same day to your own doorstep.
Omaha Children’s Museum has opened a virtual museum gift shop where you can purchase themed gift bags for kids. They’ll be available for curbside pick-up on select days.
Garden supplies – This dreary weather is going to end soon and before you know it, it will be spring gardening time. Mulhall’s has devised a gardening to-go plan for customers to order online and then pick-up your items (they’ll put it in your car for you).
Candy – Already planning Easter baskets? Or are you just stressed out parent who needs chocolate? You can order candy to-go from Hollywood Candy. Chocolat Abeille has to-die-for chocolate creations just in time for Easter. You can order online for pick-up.
Clothing – The Four Sisters Boutique storefront is closed but you are still able to order clothes online to pick-up (and even try on before getting them). Gramercy offers local delivery, curbside pickup, and shipping options. A few Regency Court retailers also have some creative ways for getting you your goods.
Books – Books are getting me and my family through these long days at home (after homeschool stuff is finished, of course). The Bookworm has an online store set up, though you can still get curb-side delivery and home delivery within zip codes 68106, 68114, 68124, 68132, 68144, and 68154.
Urban Abbey in the Old Market also has curbside pick-up. Just call ahead to order your books and/or coffee drinks.
Interior decorating – Spruce Interiors & Gifts now offers curbside pickup. In addition to interior design items, there are cute items to gift to a friend (or yourself).
How to support Omaha restaurants and bars
Some Omaha restaurants and bakeries have closed temporarily to weather this pandemic, but many have found ways to stay open and serve customers. So, the obvious way you can help is to continue to be patrons at your favorite restaurants…only do it safely (eating at home seems to be the way to go).
Oh, and tip generously.
Leah and Jay at Gastronomblog wrote the best round-up of Omaha restaurants that are still open – whether they deliver, allow walk-ups, or curbside pick-ups.
Blackstone Business Association has set up a fund to distribute monthly support to service industry members in the neighborhood who’ve been affected by business closures or layoffs. If you love restaurants like Stirnella, Butterfish, Mula, Coneflower Creamery — wow, there are so many great places in that neighborhood — then consider donating to the fund.
Related post: More ways you can help Omahans who’ve lost their job
Love the bakeries and shops at Countryside Village? Check out the neighborhood’s Facebook page for updates on individual restaurants and bakeries that offer frozen food to-go, take-out, and more. Restaurants include Le Quartier Bakery Co., Camille’s Bakery, Swartz’s Deli, and Timber Wood Fire Bistro.
And I can’t forget to mention that Midtown Crossing has a lot of places open, too. You remember that fun day I had with my family at Midtown Crossing? I do, and I can’t wait for the day when we can head back there.
Papillion also has a handful of great restaurants to patronize, including those found at Shadow Lake Towne Center. Here’s what’s open now:
My tip: Don’t forget you can buy gift cards from restaurants and save them for dining out once it’s safe to do so!
How to support Omaha nonprofits
As many of you know, my day job is at a nonprofit, so this is a biggie for me. There are dozens of nonprofits that have had to suspend operations, events, fundraisers, etc. in March. ShareOmaha has a fantastic list of nonprofits that have been impacted and how you can help. It’s not just how to help financially, either.
- – Renew your memberships to the places that are important to you. I’m talking about places like Omaha Children’s Museum, The Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and the like. If you buy or renew your membership to Fontenelle Forest, you can get access to the trails even while they’re temporarily closed to the general public!
- – Donate to causes that resonate with you – be it art, animals, literary, history, food scarcity, or children.
- – And if you have the means, donate without restrictions so nonprofits can apply the funds where they need them most.
So what sort of things can you help with? Here’s a few ways I found on the ShareOmaha site:
- – Food insecure Omaha neighbors through organization like Abide, Catholic Charities, Food Bank of the Heartland, New Visions Homeless Services, Salvation Army and more.
- – Donate cleaning supplies to youth shelters via Child Saving Institute, MICAH House, Open Door Mission, Stephen Center, and more.
- – Support seniors whose families can’t visit them by sending them puzzles, craft supplies and more at Florence Home. I’m sure there are others.
- – Volunteer. Places that need volunteers include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Heartland Hope Mission, Keep Omaha Beautiful, NorthStar Foundation, The 712 Initiative and many more.
- – Have a talent for online shopping (don’t we all?). Some organizations have set up Amazon lists including Down Syndrome Alliance, Hope Center For Kids, Siena Francis House and more
How to help seniors in Omaha
AARP has Mutual Aid Groups that you can join. These groups are informal groups of volunteers who help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance, or lend emotional support to neighbors. You can look up local groups or start one.
Feed your creativity with Omaha crafts
Omaha craft stores and creative spaces are, well, creative, so they’ve found ways for you to stay crafty at home.
Mangelsen’s offers DIY craft kits that you can order online.
The Makery sells activity kits for kids and adults, like painting and string art. They range from about $12-$34 and include almost everything you need (find your own hammers). You will have to call in your order and pick it up, curbside!
That Pottery Place offers pottery kits to-go for kids and adults. You’ll be able to bring your pottery back for glazing and firing after you’re finished painting.
It’s Yours Pottery in West Omaha offers Creativity To-Go Kits that can be ordered online. The kits include pottery selection(s), glaze colors (up to five) paint brushes, and an instruction sheet. You can call the studio when you arrive for curbside pickup.
Send a gift from Omaha businesses
Since social distancing is the buzz phrase of the month, we can’t visit our friends and loved ones like we want to. So, we can send them our love in the mail or with a special local delivery.
Hardy Coffee Co. has set up one sweet package: Homemade cinnamon roll delivered with a bag of coffee.
Made In Omaha has a way to support local artisans: Send a care package with locally-made products. There are premade packages to choose from or you can select the items to include.
Urban Abbey is selling care packages that can be delivered locally for $5. Packages are themed and include Easter, Mega Mom, and Girl Power.
Watch movies at home while still supporting your local movie art house
Netflix, you guys. I’m getting a little tired of it. Luckily, Film Streams has come up with a solution for film buffs: They’re offering home movies of the indie film variety. Purchase virtual tickets to stream at home and get more information at filmstreams.org.
How to support the businesses that will be impacted by CWS & Swim Trial cancellations
Can you imagine having the majority of your profits earned in a small window each summer? That’s how many businesses near TD Ameritrade Park and the CHI Health Center Omaha operate. So, the restaurants and stores in NoDo, Capitol District and the Old Market are all facing a rough year financially without all the tourist dollars coming in.
Want to make sure these districts continue to thrive?
NoDo has a mix of restaurants, a brewery, and businesses that need continued support. Slowdown shared a list of their NoDo neighbors that could use your business.
The Capitol District is full of restaurants. Here are the restaurants that are offering carry-out.
Here’s a list of Old Market businesses that are open and what services they continue to offer (and when).
How to support local farmers
Just a quick drive outside of Omaha and you’ll find a lot of farms, as well as CSAs to sign up for. Here are a few to consider: Plum Creek Farms (who has a discount offer for a limited time due to the excess of chickens they have from restaurant closures); Wenninghoff’s Farm, which tentatively plans to open mid-April, but either way, consider signing up for their CSA by April 10 to get a $10 credit to use in their greenhouse in May; and Big Muddy Urban Farm, which has a CSA that starts at the end of May.
Omaha Farmer’s Market has been deemed “an essential service,” but they’re gathering the public’s opinion on when to open. You can share your thoughts on the survey here.
Help me update this post! If you know of more ways to help Omaha businesses, artists, nonprofits, or neighbors, please leave a comment.