These days the phrase “How are you doing?” echoes hollow every time we hear it or say it. We all are just getting by, just getting through, barely making it. This past week, the hits continued. Positive COVID-19 cases are rising and, as a result, more restrictions have been enacted. People are frustrated. Everyone is tired. Most of us have lost someone dear to us from COVID-19. Others have lost their businesses or are barely holding on. It feels odd and maybe even inappropriate to talk about celebrating.

Yet this week is Thanksgiving, the day that was declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Reflecting on what our nation and our ancestors were living through in 1863 brings 2020 into perspective. It does not provide comfort — just perspective.

Now it is even more important to try to adapt to safe practices, yet also try to keep as many traditions as possible alive. One tradition will remain the same. The Chamber and Independence Bank will still get together next Saturday to kick off Shop Owensboro. This year, it will be an entire week in order to cut down on overcrowded stores and, most importantly, to remind our community how important it is to shop local. Most of our merchants have options of curbside pick-up, delivery, online shopping and shipping. So even those of us following the strictest protocol are still able to keep our money local.

Shop Owensboro will have a curbside bag pick-up at the Owensboro Convention Center starting at 9 a.m. this coming Saturday. Here is how it will work: Drive up to the front of the Owensboro Convention Center. Stay in your car, masked up, and our team of Independence Bank and Chamber staff will deliver your Shop Owensboro bag to your car door. You don’t even need to get out of your vehicle!

Bingo cards, shopping maps and great discounts from participating merchants are in the bags. In fact, as I write this, I can see 500 bright green bags all over the Chamber lobby. Some of the bags have surprise gift certificates. And the two winners of the bingo card drawings will receive $250 Visa gift cards!

Small businesses put food on the table of the majority of our families in Greater Owensboro. They are the first people we ask for donations for our fundraisers, ads on our ballfields, sponsorships for our nonprofits. They are taxpayers. They are economic drivers. They are our neighbors. And they are also the last people to ever ask for anything.

So, I am going to ask on their behalf.

Please shop small. Please patronize local restaurants and bars. Please understand that these businesses are what make Owensboro unique. They distinguish us from other communities. Now is the time we show who we are. And we can do that by keeping our money where are heart is.

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