By Oil City Staff Writer Gregory Hirst
CASPER, Wyo. — “It’s a little surreal, a little sad without our customers,” said Leslie Colburn, who owns The Cottage Cafe with her husband Tom Colburn. Like the rest of Casper’s restaurants, the venue sits empty, chairs stacked on the tables.
“I was literally sitting at the kitchen table, thinking ‘How am I going to reach out and support the community?’ when Kate called me,” said Colburn.
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Like Colburn and other local business owners, Kate Kalinowski of Coldwell Banker The Legacy Group was thinking about what action to take during the COVID-19 crisis. “We wanted to find a way to provide more support for local restaurants and at the same time support frontline workers.” Kalinowski said.
With help from her staff, Kalinowski created the Casper Local Restaurant Fund. Last week the fund contracted with Eggingtons, QDoba, and Hayden’s Kitchen to deliver 105 meals to the Wyoming Medical Center.
When Kalinowski heard of similar fundraisers by Occasions by Corey and the Cottage Cafe, she offered to unite them under the same label: Feed the Front Line Casper.
“It’s a combined effort, executed separately,” said Cory Poulos, owner and manager of the catering venue Occasions by Cory. He described Kalinowksi as “the restaurant liaison and master calendar organizer.”
Donors can contribute directly to The Cottage, Occasions by Cory, or the Casper Local Restaurant Fund managed by Kalinowski via feedthefrontlinecasper.com
Deliveries will rotate among the WMC, Wyoming Behavioral Institute, grocery stores, clinics, fire and police stations, and dispatch offices. On Monday, April 6th Occasions by Cory employees delivered 50 meals of BBQ chicken and pineapple to various WMC departments.
“It was refreshing to get back to work,” Poulos said.
On Tuesday, April 6th, they served Natural Grocers and the fire stations. Wednesday they delivered to the Central Wyoming Counseling Center.
“We don’t want to neglect the necessity of mental health during this crisis,” Poulos said.
On Tuesday The Cottage delivered 35 meals to Smith’s Grocery.
“They sent us pictures of them enjoying the meals,” Colburn said. “They said it made their day!” On Wednesday they delivered 45 ranch wraps with pasta salad to Wyoming Cardio Pulmonary Services PC.
As of Tuesday, the Feed the Front Line Casper campaign had donated 245 meals. “We hope to get to 545 meals for the first 2 weeks,” Kalinowski said.
“We plan to do 50 meals and 250 meals per week, Monday through Friday through the month of April,” Poulos said. “As donations come in it looks like we might expand to 100 meals.”
Poulos said he was inspired by a similar campaign in New York City. “We just thew the idea out there, not knowing if we’d be broke in two weeks. We just decided to take a leap of faith and hopefully the community would back us up.”
Kalinowski said she was overwhelmed by the support raised so far. “It’s been a reminder of the generous heart of the people of Casper.”
Colburn said she’s also overwhelmed by the support. “We are being faithful; God’s hand is in this. There’s so many stories of hope and great things that come out of this.”
She is also grateful the clarity and direction to act in the crisis. She created her first websites for The Cottage’s fundraiser and, ultimately, unified Feed the Front Line Casper campaign.
“I was hesitant to publish the first fundraiser.” Colburn said. “I asked Tom, ‘Should I do this?’ and Tom said, ‘Just push the button.’”
Donate to the Feed the Front Line campaign by following any of the 3 links below:
Directly to Occasions by Cory’s efforts @ www.OccasionsbyCory.com/feed-the-front-line
Directly to The Cottage Cafe’s efforts @ gf.me/u/xubukf
Directly to the Casper Local Restaurant Fund @ https://venmo.com/Kate-Kalinowski-2
If you are a working on the Front Line, are a local business, or would like more information:
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: email@example.com
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.