To embrace the Christmas spirit is generally to be generous, kind, forgiving, and, of course, joyful.
Yet if there were ever a time that would seem to run counter to that spirit, it is here and now in 2020. This Christmas season is difficult for far too many Americans facing economic hardship because of the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans and small businesses have suffered without relief as state governments prohibited them from earning a living while Congress took eight months to negotiate a $900 billion relief package that will compensate every American for months of economic uncertainty with just $600.
As Axios reported on Monday, the outlook for the country at first seems bleak. Jobless claims rose to 885,000 last week, a full 85,000 claims more than economists had predicted. The U.S. poverty rate is up to 11.7%, jumping 2.4% since June, which according to the Washington Post is the largest increase since the government began tracking that data. Some 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, again according to the Washington Post. Retail sales decreased 1.1% in November, according to the Associated Press. And as a report from earlier this month showed, a staggering 1 in 6 restaurants have been forced to close forever because of the lockdown policies instituted by several states.
But there is cause for good cheer. For hope. Because while it seems the American government has failed its people, the American people, in a spirit of great generosity, charity, and patriotism that is all too fitting for this time of year, have done wondrous good works to help small businesses in need.
TheBlaze has covered some of these stories. BlazeTV host Glenn Beck last week established a fundraiser to aid small businesses across the nation, sharing the stories of struggling business owners with his audience and encouraging those who can afford to do so to donate money to help them stay afloat. Beck's initial goal of raising $50,000 was demolished as over 3,000 donors raised more than $200,000 in under one week.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy launched a similar effort, beginning with a personal donation of $500,000 to what he named the "Barstool Fund" for small businesses that continue to pay their employees. More than 30,000 supporters quickly raised nearly $2 million to get money to businesses that need extra help to pay their rent, tax bills, or whatever overhead costs they face to keep employees working and earning a living for their families.
Then there's celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who raised $21.5 million after creating the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, a charity that provides $500 grants to restaurant workers in all 50 states and has served over 43,000 restaurant workers nationwide.
Critically, Americans are also showing that you don't need to be a celebrity or have a platform with millions of followers to make an impact. A GoFundMe page linking to various fundraisers for small businesses affected by the coronavirus shows that ordinary, everyday people have set up more than 17,000 fundraisers to save businesses in their communities. Just a quick look through these GoFundMe pages shows tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for each one, totaling millions of dollars that will keep the American dream alive for these business owners and their employees.
For those interested in donating to multiple businesses, GoFundMe has created a Small Business Relief Fund to provide micro-grants to qualifying small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the generosity of so many, the fund has provided over $2.4 million to help businesses afford rent payments, supplement staff wages, pay for PPE, transition to online business, and more.
No matter how difficult times may be, what these efforts demonstrate is that each and every American should be confident that we all have countrymen who are willing to lend a hand to those in need. That's the epitome of the Christmas spirit. What's more, it's the American way.