We are in uncharted territory as we assist our small businesses during this time of social distancing due to COVID-19.

With networking and informational events being canceled or postponed, we have temporarily lost the face-to-face interaction that, in part, helps the Chamber of Commerce do what we do — make business and personal connections.

But do not fear.

The Chamber of Commerce continues to communicate with our members, maybe even more so than before, via phone, Facebook, email blast, and email interest groups, such as Human Resource Managers.

For our small businesses, we have several suggestions.

First, please visit the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page to see a list of our locally owned restaurants, and the options they’re giving their customers, including curbside pickup, online ordering and delivery. Some restaurants are getting especially creative in ways to serve you.

Quick Bites has reduced their minimum delivery order from $50 down to $35, and they are waiving their delivery fee.

Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Bar has developed an affordable, comfort food-style menu with their Cooper’s flair to go along with their everyday menu. They will have a family style bulk menu as well. Wine will also be available for pickup.

We encourage you to tip big if you are able. Restaurant employees are still putting in the work, and often rely on these tips for financial stability.

And when you eat, thank a farmer for the work they are continuing to do every day.

There is a long list of things you can do to help our small businesses for now, and for the future.

Share a local business social media post. This keeps businesses in the front of people’s minds. Give a business owner a call to support them, not to complain. Business owners are doing everything they can to help their customers. You can shop over the phone with a local retailer who may not have online shopping. Most will be happy to take your order.

I have a challenge for you — write three positive Facebook reviews for small businesses, and write three new Google Reviews. You can also share an uplifting business interaction that you have had on social media.

Tell a grocery clerk that they are appreciated. Our grocery stores are stretched thin, and are serving you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Shop Small online. Many local retailers have online shopping options, please utilize this service. You can also purchase a gift card now to use at a later date.

Outside of serving our small business community, it is important that we help our community as a whole during this difficult time.

Here are a few suggestions:

• Run an errand for an elderly friend.

• Donate food to the Christians United Outreach Center, who are helping to supplement the food the Lee County School System is providing. If you would like to make a monetary donation to CUOC, you may send a check to CUOC, P.O. Box 2217, Sanford, NC 27331, or donate online at www.cuoclc.org. If you would like to donate your time, please call 919-774-8485.

• Thank a healthcare provider.

• Buy a fast food meal for a trucker. They can’t walk up to the window, and their trucks won’t allow them to drive up.

• Only share fact-based news from reputable sources.

• Last but not least, take care of yourself.

In addition to all the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control regarding the coronavirus, remember your mental health. Social distancing can result in some depressed feelings, so connect with someone (virtually) today, share what you are grateful for today, create something beautiful, or let beauty in.

I’ll end with a quote from Ann Elmore, Investor Protection & Business Outreach, N.C. Department of the Secretary of State: “May you and yours be safe, may our current difficulties quickly pass, and may we emerge from this challenge better able to handle the next.”