Many of the New River Valley’s local businesses are working to stay open and serve customers amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but there is no doubt that they need the support of customers and the broader community to stay afloat.  In an innovative effort to support local businesses, Giles County and the Towns of Pembroke, Pearisburg, Narrows, Rich Creek and Glen Lyn have teamed up to launch a centralized gift card purchasing system. Individuals can purchase gift cards to Giles-based restaurants or lodging, and the government partners add value by increasing the card amount by 50%.

The process is simple and gives businesses a much-needed revenue stream. Interested customers visit www.GilesCounty.org and select the Gift Cards button on the home page. Then they select which businesses they would like to support and select how many $20 “cards” they wish to purchase. As a buyer, customers will receive an additional 50% value on their card. For example, if you purchase one $20 card, the value when you redeem it at our local establishments is $30. Buyers will receive a confirmation email to download and print their unique vouchers. Those vouchers can then be taken to the place of business to redeem, and the business will also have a list of their supporters. To date the program has raised $86,220 in support for local restaurants and lodging.

In addition to the gift card program, Giles County is also ensuring that seniors have the support and supplies they need as they stay at home. The Senior Check Program emerged from public health guidance stressing how the elderly and those with compromising health conditions were the most vulnerable to COVID infections. Giles County staff moved swiftly to do regular check-ins with seniors and have made 1,670 phone calls to date.  None of these participating Giles citizens have to expose themselves to the virus in order to attain food, prescriptions or other essential supplies.  Instead, the connection team works to arrange delivery to their doors.

Chris McKlarney, Giles County Administrator had the following to say in regard to the gift card and Senior Check Program that have been implemented as a response to the COVID-19 situation.  “We are making every effort to provide continuity of services to our community and we can’t express how appreciative we are for the efforts of our staff and the many volunteers that have given of their time and resources.  While we have been blessed to have only had a minimal number of actual cases in this region, the mitigation efforts associated with this event have created particularly difficult circumstances for both our elderly population as well as our businesses.  It was in response to this that the Restaurant and Lodging Gift Card Program, as well as the Senior Check Programs were designed and implemented.   The outpouring of support by the public in purchasing these cards to support the industry has been amazing.  We are currently in our fifth week and over $86,000 has been received and transferred back to the participating businesses.  This was accomplished through over 500 individual customers and over 600 individual transactions.”

In closing, McKlarney stressed, “The entire New River Valley has come together through this event and truly supported one another.  I have been overwhelmed by the kindness that has been exhibited and think we will look back and realize what a blessing this trial has been with regards to bringing us all together.”

The gift card and Senior Check programs are two examples of how Giles County and its’ towns are working to support local businesses and residents as they navigate the pandemic. Learn more about the program at https://virginiasmtnplayground.com/shop-2/ and check out other resources at gilescounty.org.

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