Residents of Haddonfield, and those who live beyond its borders, now have a simple way to help the backbone of the borough — the small businesses which comprise its downtown core — stay alive.
Haddonfield Here for Good was founded by residents Megan York Parker, Sara Blackburn and Bob Hochgertel on April 2. The new, grass-roots campaign exists to keep the downtown core viable as the shutdowns due to the spread of coronavirus create longer-term economic impacts.
“One of my group members, Sara Blackburn, used Facebook messenger to reach out; we shared our feelings of sadness for our dormant downtown. Though I don’t know Sara in real life, we put our heads together, and when I floated the idea of a Haddonfield merchandise item like a T-shirt, we both thought it was an idea with real potential,” said Parker about the genesis of the undertaking.
“We took our idea and approached a few key communicators that we’ve worked with in the past. Bob Hochgertel was at the top of that list.”
Parker revealed that Hochgertel was pondering something similar himself, running across a program one of his former students was executing in another state based on the “Here for Good” concept.
It was an easy choice to model the campaign on an existing program, and with Hochgertel handling the web store and recruiting fellow business owners in his network, the group was able to create its virtual store and to recruit stores and restaurants within a matter of days.
With so many people in the borough and in the surrounding areas going through similar work stoppages and shutdowns, Parker said, the group didn’t want to pressure anyone into helping.
“Once businesses opted in and sent a logo, the only thing we asked is that they help promote ‘Haddonfield Here for Good’ to their audiences in their regular communication via social media, word of mouth and email,” she added.
“When the shirts are printed in May, we will ask each store to act as a pickup location for their shop’s (merchandise) in compliance with government regulations at that time.”
Quality control is a major issue in charitable endeavors, but Parker said that the three-person team has a bead on making sure the proceeds end up where they are needed.
“Our team is running the accounting and tracking sales ourselves. We are donating our time and talent and networking with businesses and community organizations.There is no overhead,” she explained.
“As of this writing, we have 64 participating stores so any Haddonfield-logo shirts or donations we accumulate into the general fund will be split evenly between any stores that have opted in at some future point once we have closed the ‘Haddonfield Here for Good’ shop.”
Though the principles behind HHFG didn’t have any clear goals as far as a specific number of participating businesses or fundraising amount, interest has been more than expected in such a short period. That appears to bode well for its long-term success.
“We were pleasantly surprised. In just two weeks, based on a completely grass roots outreach, Haddonfield Here for Good sold nearly 800 shirts and, coupled with donations, we’ve raised nearly $20,000,” Parker revealed.
“I don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will look like, or when that will be, but our team hopes that Haddonfield’s downtown emerges intact as the heart of this borough we call home. I think we’ll be working on this project until June 2020 at least.”
All interested parties can learn how to be a part of the new venture by visiting the website: HaddonfieldHereforGood.com, or by visiting its page on social media at facebook.com/haddonfieldhereforgood.