Wood River Service Industry Relief Fund

As of midday Wednesday, the GoFundMe had raised more that $4,500. 

Things are a bit rough right now, with all signs pointing to them getting rougher as time passes, but some groups are actively working to help others in tangible, meaningful ways.

Josh Hanson and Katherine Cullen, Wood River Valley residents and owners of Idaho distillery Party Animal Vodka, are two such people. They have launched a new GoFundMe campaign in an effort to provide financial assistance to employees in the valley’s hard-hit service industry.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head in Blaine County, the number of confirmed cases here has skyrocketed, prompting the state to issue a "shelter-in-place" isolation order. As a result businesses around the valley have shuttered, forcing many out of work.

“Party Animal Vodka wouldn’t be anything without the support this community has given to us,” Cullen said. “We’re extremely thankful to all in the valley and are hoping to repay the love during this trying time. Please consider donating and helping our valley make it through this crisis.”

As of Monday morning, the GoFundMe had raised almost $4,500 after just three days. The objective is to distribute money directly to those in need who have “no other source of significant or livable wage,” according to press release.

The release also said that funds will be distributed to those who reach out via their workplace managers. Hanson and Cullen urge those affected in this way by the spread of COVID-19 to contact their managers to be included on their list of recipients.

In an effort to distribute the funds as quickly as possible, they ask that managers contact them no later than 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.

To ask for someone to be included on the list of recipients, email jhanson@partyanimalvodka.com.

“One hundred percent of funds raised will be given to those who work in the service industry in the Wood River Valley,” Cullen said.

Cullen stressed the valley’s dependence upon its service industry. As a tourist destination, the Wood River’s economic backbone is largely formed by its servers. Unemployment benefits for the service industry comes in dramatically below par because it does not account for tips, which constitute a large portion of any server’s income.

Anyone hoping to pitch in can do so by donating at the GoFundMe.

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