Claudia Towles owner of aMuse Toys
“Claudia Towles owner of aMuse Toys said her company adjusted with the closure of non-essential businesses and shifted to retool the business for online orders, curbside pickup, and local deliveries.” (photo credit: The Daily Record)

Some Good News Weekly Updates – Featuring the University of Maryland, Messages of Hope, and More.

University of Maryland, College Park’s Do Good Institute Doing Its Part Against COVID-19

The Do Good Institute is turning its efforts to fight COVID-19. The program is part of the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park’s Public Policy Institute. While the Institute had to cancel its annual Do Good Challenge, the program has several COVID-19 initiatives actively helping the community. Below is just a sampling of the good work being done by the Do Good Institute:

  • Chat Health is a nonprofit started by UMD students that uses “…novel technologies to improve the accessibility and uptake of preventative health resources for students.” Chat Health has developed a web platform that helps disseminate accurate information via myriad sources, including AI-driven chatbots that can answer a wide range of COVID-19 questions.
  • UMD student members of United2Heal, an international nonprofit that collects excess medical supplies and ships them to countries in need, have pivoted their efforts to making handmade masks for the Anne Arundel Medical Center.
  • UMD students involved with Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children ages 6-18, are creating a virtual summer camp using ZOOM and other activities so that these children can still have a fun experience.
  • Do Good finalist and CEO and Founder of Hungry Harvest Evan Lutz is expanding his operation to accommodate the increased demand for grocery delivery during the pandemic. Hungry Harvest has partnered with the UMD Medical System and “…has provided almost 4,800 pounds of apples and oranges for distribution to 3,900 families as well as providing 620 Emergency Produce Boxes to four schools and two churches in the Baltimore Area.”

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Federal Credit Union Sponsors Message of Hope 

The NIH Federal Credit Union, located in Rockville, Maryland has been serving the healthcare and biomedical community for 80 years. The credit union is continuing its service to its healthcare and biomedical workers during the coronavirus pandemic via Message of Hope Message of Hope is a website that helps the wider community deliver messages of support to frontline healthcare workers via video or a photo message. The creation of Message of Hope was inspired by a Doctor’s reply to a question about what healthcare workers needed more than anything? The Doctor’s reply: “…what all healthcare workers could use right now is a little hope.”

University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Grid Pitch Goes Virtual

The Graduate Research Innovation District, or GRID, at UMB has forged ahead with its third annual showcase by creating a virtual event in response to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. The showcase provides students across all areas of study to pitch innovative business ideas to experts and investors. Pitch teams will pre-record their pitches using VoiceThread and are holding virtual meetings with mentors via ZOOM. Teams are split into two groups, Vision and Venture, depending upon an ideas developmental stage; the 12 teams that participate in the competition get 12 weeks of mentorship and share seed capital provided by UM Ventures. Grid Pitch presentations will be posted to the Grid website by May 1, 2020. 

Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) Launches Local Production Fund

MCEDC, along with the Montgomery County Council, recently announced the creation and launch of the Local Production Fund to support small and midsize businesses in changing their focus to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields and other essential items.  Existing Montgomery County companies, sole-proprietors and certain non-profits may be eligible to receive a portion of the $200,000 Local Production Fund. For more information on the criteria and how to apply, click here.  

Woman-Owned, Baltimore Business Moves Online, and Curbside During COVID-19 

aMuse Toys, owned by Claudia Towles, closed its doors to in-store shopping even before Governor Larry Hogan closed non-essential businesses across the state. To do her part and keep her employees and community safe, Towles moved her store’s activities online, to curbside pickup and to deliveries, according to a recent Daily Record story by Gina Galluci-White As one might imagine, demand for toys, puzzles, and other activities has skyrocketed since the pandemic hit. Towles has continued to meet this demand, despite being more of an in-store experiential company prior to the pandemic. The challenges posed by the coronavirus “new normal” inspired aMuse Toys to pivot and innovate; the store has tried to keep its in-store experience alive, offering its clientele Facetime and Google Hangout personal shopping experiences.  

Thanks and cheers to all working to make an impact.

Read more local Good News we’ve found in and round the region 👏

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