Need a little help? Charity looking for people to give gift cards to in Greater Cleveland

File image of kindness.
Posted at 4:00 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 18:43:35-04

FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — When hours are cut and jobs are lost, every little bit helps as our community begins to rebound. Now, a little known charity, started on the west side of Cleveland 40 years ago, is looking for people they can help out.

It’s called Friends Helping Friends, and that’s exactly what it is.

It began back in the 1970s, when founder Dan Fronczak and his friends were at a Christmas luncheon.

“They threw a great big tip on the table and thought, ‘You know, we can do better. We could collect this kind of money and give it to our friends and neighbors and families who might have hit a bump in the road,’” said Gretchen Faro, executive director of the nonprofit.

The premise works like this.

You can become a donor for $150 a year. Then, if any time you have a friend or family member, neighbor or acquaintance who needs help, you can nominate them to receive a monthly stipend in the form of a $150 monthly gift card or a one-time emergency payment.

“If they lose a job, they’re facing a major illness, whatever the circumstance,” Faro said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit is now working on emergency help, to spread the small gifts to more people in need throughout Greater Cleveland.

They have about 90 donors or "members" right now, and are putting out a call for help — to give out help.

“We need recipients, we need our donors to say, ‘I know someone that could benefit from this,'"Faro said.

The emergency help recipients will receive are $75 gift cards to Giant Eagle, Target, or Walmart for three months, but they have to be referred by a member.

After all, it is Friends Helping Friends. The key is that the donations are quick and personal.

The group said they know that in the grand scheme of things, their gifts are modest but sometimes, that’s all that is needed — a little bit of kindness, a little helping hand.

For details on how to become a donor or to nominate someone for help, you can click here.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.