With COVID-19 crisis creating social distancing around the world, a lot of small businesses are feeling the weight. Even local restaurants in the Morris County area have narrowed their services to take-out and delivery only, while some have temporarily closed.

And for young Emma, from Morristown, her 8th birthday party for this April 4th had to be cancelled. It was originally going to happen at Tiffs restaurant with many friends and relatives attending and ending with a big sleepover.

Yet, both she and her mother Amy Simon Nicklaus found something else to do to replace the fun and give back to their community during this virus crisis. Wondering how restaurant employees are faring with their establishments nearly closing, mother and daughter created the Emma’s In the Biz Relief Fund.

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“This virus crisis has given us an opportunity to come together as a family and do good things for our community,” said Nicklaus, who is the owner/president of Nicklaus Marketing & PR, based in Randolph. “That’s the silver lining. Normally, we have a big party, but everything then changed. But we’ve been okay here and it is difficult to be home, but my kids have each other and been creating fun games.”

And aside from fun games, the Nicklaus have made it their mission to go around the county, visit restaurants, purchase the gift cards they sell and give them over to the employees right there.

“This has been pretty fun, but a little challenging,” said Emma, who attends second grade at Alfred Vail Elementary, which has also closed as with the whole school district, again due to the COVID-19 crisis.“I was sad about my birthday party being cancelled but doing this relief fund makes me better.”

Monies for the gift cards are donated by supporters through the relief fund’s Facebook page, which was launched just last Saturday. According to the social media page, over $600 has been raised out of the set goal of $10,000. The mother/daughter duo, also aided by older sister Madilyn and father Blaine, learn which restaurants to purchase gift cards at by visiting the Facebook page of the “Morristown Order Out Twice a Week Stimulus Plan,” which list the eateries that are still open and in need of business.

“It doesn’t matter what restaurant you worked at,” said Nicklaus.“Anyone who can’t work because of these troubling times, to able to use these gift cards is great since they have no income. We’re asking anyone to go to our Facebook donation page. They can donate there and then we can purchase gift cards for more restaurant employees. We’ll always be updating on what’s going on Facebook.”

And as we read, the funds continue to grow, and gift cards keep getting purchased. And as for Emma,

“I feel pretty good doing this for our favorite places to eat at,” said Emma. With many gift cards being distributed, the Nicklaus family have been inspired to do other things for their community and further combat the craziness that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. This includes a beautification idea of painting and decorating rocks around their neighborhood.

Not only that, some celebration of Emma’s 8th birthday intends to occur on April 4th, with friends and relatives being invited to the Nicklaus house for a “social-distancing approved” birthday parade. Anyone in town is welcomed to drive by their house with birthday signs and honk their horns to show their love and appreciation for the Morristown girl who gave up her 8th birthday to charity. In the meantime, the Nicklaus hope to achieve their goal of raising $10,000 in gift cards.

“We just really hope a lot of people contribute to this cause,” said Nicklaus.“We appreciate all our health care workers and community programs that support small businesses. We just want to bring awareness to employees who have little to no income coming in at this time.”

To learn more about Emma’s In the Biz Relief Fund, and to donate, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/donate/1560592447422550/.


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