: Justin Myers Photography

Oregonians Making an Impact During COVID-19

April 27, 2020

What is happening right now is not normal by any means. The COVID-19 outbreak has taken thousands of lives and prompted strong social distancing measures that have never been seen in our lifetimes. But when faced with such unprecedented obstacles, many Oregonians are stepping up to make a difference.

As essential workers ⁠— or rather, essential heroes ⁠— risk exposure to the virus to serve others, their families and friends are finding ways to help too. From providing medical supplies to releasing online entertainment, local businesses and organizations are helping people in need in big ways right now. Here are some of the stories shared with us that show the resiliency of the human spirit — and how communities come together in Oregon.

The sun sets behind the historic Geiser Grand Hotel
Geiser Grand Hotel, a 1889 landmark in Baker City, welcomed medical workers.

Supporting essential heroes

With a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) in medical facilities, Oregonians are banding together for solutions. Numerous companies and community members are crafting face masks and shields for health care workers, including The Broomsmen in Bend. Mt. Bachelor Ski Area’s Goggles for Docs campaign supplied more than 550 pairs of eyewear to health care workers. Oregon State University in Corvallis collected some 200,000 pairs of gloves, 8,300 face masks and additional medical supplies for county emergency management centers across the state. Lincoln City – Oregon Beach Vacation Rentals donated 8,000 gloves to the new Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital. Stoller Family Estate loaned a large tent and heaters to the Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville.

Essential workers need respite more than ever before. In Baker City, Geiser Grand Hotel donated 600 room nights, worth a quarter-million dollars, to health care workers and first responders in Eastern Oregon. Seaside Civic & Convention Center and Oregon Fine Foods teamed up to serve complimentary breakfast for emergency responders and people in need in Clatsop County. Bend’s Deschutes Brewery and Riff Cold Brewed both started pay-it-forward campaigns, donating six-packs of beer and bottles of coffee to health care professionals.

A hand reaches for fries next to a burger.
Oregon restaurants are serving their communities right now. (Photo by Dylan VanWeelden)

Feeding families in need

As Oregon families deal with the impacts of school and business closures, local organizations are offering help. In Newport, Taphouse at Nye Creek has provided free lunch for local students and their siblings, regardless of financial need. Seaside’s Dough Dough Bakery has quietly provided baked goods to local food banks and sources say they’re not shy about serving a free or reduced meal to those in need. In addition to feeding first responders, O Restaurant in Coos Bay is working with the At Risk Kids Project to deliver hot meals to local youth in need. Stoller Wine Group, Botanist House and Meals on Wheels People of Portland joined forces to deliver free and reduced-cost meals to Oregon’s displaced service industry professionals and elderly.

Strengthening communities

Altruistic acts are helping communities across the state. In Portland, Jupiter Hotel offered its 81 rooms to people experiencing homelessness. The City of Newberg is giving residents a $15 credit on their utility bill for each $25 spent at local restaurants or businesses. In Brookings, Chetco Brewing Company has a gift-a-growler-fill program that is picking up steam. Once a week Hood River’s Cerulean Wine posts its #supportsmallbusiness challenge, showcasing small businesses they love. Washington County Visitors Association, dba Tualatin Valley, gave thousands of dollars to 57 hotels that are struggling to pay bills right now. Wilson Construction is quietly supporting Canby’s The Wild Hare Saloon and Backstop Bar & Grill by providing lunches for their 40 office staff members.

A kayaker in front of Willamette Falls
Oregon outfitters and guides are offering special deals for future travel. (Photo by Mountains Legacy)

Lifting spirits

While gatherings are canceled until further notice, Oregonians are getting creative in sharing their talents. In Grants Pass, the brand-new Weekend Beer Company is hosting online concerts with local music artists like The Brothers Reed. The Tin Pan Theater is now showing its independent films virtually, with shares of online rentals going to BendFilm. The Oregon Zoo in Portland launched a Keepers Never Stop Caring campaign, posting live animal videos to social media. Portland nonprofit Family Meal PDX is sending free digital coloring books to anyone who ordered takeout from one of the featured restaurants; just email a copy of your receipt to [email protected]. Willamette Valley Wineries Association started #WVcommunity page featuring special offers, interviews, playlists and recipes. The Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance’s new site Gorge Love encourages locals to put hearts up in their windows.

Inspiring future travel

Oregonians are dreaming about when it’s time to travel again — and local tour guides and outfitters are making it easy. Envi Adventures is accepting future bookings at highly discounted prices and 20% off gift cards online. Northwest Navigator is ready to support transportation needs with a fleet of motorcoaches and other vehicles. Adventures Without Limits, a nonprofit that provides inclusive outings, started a Do Good x2 campaign in hopes of doubling contributions to local and small businesses. On social media eNRG Kayaking is giving away free kayak and paddleboard rentals for once it reopens. Portland Spirit River Cruises is offering free sightseeing cruises with every $50 gift card purchased, just in time for two new cruises this summer in the Gorge and Oregon City.

A woman stands outside a B&B in Oregon.
When it's time to explore again, Oregon will be ready for you. (Photo by Roxy De La Torre)

What now?

You’ve seen how Oregonians are making an impact during COVID-19 — now it’s time to do your part in helping Oregon’s tourism industry. Order takeout and purchase gift cards from local businesses. Postpone, don’t cancel your trip, as hotels and outfitters depend on reservation deposits to sustain their companies and the local economy. Share supportive messages on social media. And keep those travel dreams alive. When it’s time to explore again, Oregon will be ready for you.

About The

Kelda Gilbert Schmidt
Kelda Gilbert Schmidt is the Manager of Marketing Services at Travel Oregon. Born in Portland and raised in Eugene, Kelda can be found loading her family into their camper in search of rivers to fish, rapids to raft, and coasts to surf.

Trip Ideas