Backed by a match challenge grant, the Upper Arlington Community Foundation is seeking to provide $50,000 in pandemic-related relief.

On March 16, the UACF received a $25,000 match challenge grant to provide one-time financial assistance to Upper Arlington residents and businesses experiencing hardships because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

UACF executive director Tracy Harbold said the donors wanted to remain anonymous but wanted to help people in the community through the foundation's Good Neighbor Fund.

The donors also hoped to challenge others in the community to support their neighbors and businesses. So the grant will match every dollar given to the Good Neighbor Fund -- up to $25,000 -- through May 17.

"The donors saw a sense of urgency and wanted to provide some funding," Harbold said. "With the match challenge, it's up to $50,000 for us to give in grants to the community."

The UACF Good Neighbor Fund helps Upper Arlington residents who have an unusual, unforeseen event occur in their lives that threaten their stability. This fund is for one-time, emergency assistance due to an event that seriously jeopardizes the recipient's ability to meet basic needs.

"Small businesses, especially, but also people in the community began suffering immediately," Harbold said. "We wanted to get the word out immediately so we could help people and also raise money for the match.

"Many times, small businesses operate on small margins. Something like this could put them out, and this is just one more way to be a good neighbor."

As of March 26, $19,800 had been raised for the match grant, Harbold said.

As a result, two Upper Arlington families were provided with grants totaling $4,439.92.

"The shutdown due to the coronavirus caused a desperate financial hardship on me and my family," said one of the recipients, who wished to remain anonymous. "We needed immediate assistance to pay rent and a few urgent bills.

"With this grant, our urgent bills were paid, and, more importantly, the foundation relieved a lot of stress from us during these difficult times. I hope to someday be in the position to give back to the foundation and help other families when they need it."

In addition to thanks from that recipient, a second individual who received assistance, who also wished to remain anonymous, said the business took a "nosedive" immediately following the onset of the pandemic.

"Had your organization not been here to help myself and my family through this incredibly difficult time, I honestly can't say where I would be right now," the individual wrote in a letter to the UACF. "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being such a wonderful, kind group of people."

Harbold said the UACF continues to seek donations to the Good Neighbor Fund for the matching grant and continues to look for families and businesses to assist.

Information for how to donate to the fund or receive assistance from it can be obtained at uacommunityfoundation.com/donate/ or by emailing Harbold at tharbold@uacommunityfoundation.com.

"You have to be an Upper Arlington resident to receive assistance," Harbold said. "If it's a business, your business has to be in Upper Arlington."

Assistance through the Good Neighbor Fund comes via payment of bills.

Typically, Harbold said, the fund provides assistance with rent and utilities payments.

"We never give cash," Harbold said. "We pay their bills.

"They fill out the application and give specifics about what they need help with. What we're doing is giving them a hand up. This is one-time emergency assistance due to an event that seriously jeopardizes the recipient's ability to meet basic needs."

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