WESTFIELD, NJ — (Updated at 4:57 p.m.) Responding to public concern about the ability of Westfield’s independently owned businesses to survive the fiscal downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic, the town has started the “WE Love Local” Fundraiser in conjunction with the Westfield United Fund.

Organizers launched the fundraiser with a “porch performance” at the home of town resident and Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik Friday. Video of the full concert is embedded below the text.

“We’re all sticking together, and this is a good thing,” said Rzeznik, who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and performed several Goo Goo Dolls hits. “We can show the rest of the world how amazing our community is.”

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Mayor Shelley Brindle hosted the performance from Rzeznik’s front lawn, keeping a safe six-foot distance from the singer in keeping with the social distancing guidelines that numerous public health officials are reiterating.

Rzeznik paused briefly during his performance of the song “Fearless” after reaching the lyrics: “Now’s not the time to hide.”

“Now is the time to hide by the way. … stay on the phone,” he added, referencing health officials’ calls for physical distance as a means to mitigate coronavirus’ spread.

The virtual concert came about quickly.

“John has reached out in the past to ask what he can do to help us,” Brindle told TAPinto Westfield. “After our livestream of Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day was so well-received, I texted John and asked if he would do this for Westfield. He texted right back and said ‘I’m all in.’”

The Westfield United Fund, which helped local residents after both Sept. 11 and Hurricane Sandy, has pledged to match the first $15,000 in donations. Funds will be used to help local independently owned businesses until state and federal funding becomes available, officials said.

Brindle said she hopes that Friday’s performance will inspire other residents to create their own performances or talent shows to help raise money.

The public may donate to the fund by adding “WE Love Local!” in the space that says “In Honor of” when visiting the donation page on the website of the Westfield United Fund. Click here for that link.

Establishing the fund was a coordinated effort between the town and the nonprofit.

“Town council members Linda Habgood and Mark Parmalee have worked with the United Fund on the details of the fundraiser,” Brindle said.

View the full concert hosted by the Town of Westfield here:

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