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Local group creates virtual Toledo Tip Jar for affected service workers

Spoke Design created ToledoTipJar.com to help service workers

TOLEDO, Ohio — Sunday is 419 Day and it's about uniting all of us in the 419.

Restaurants and bars remain closed, which means many people are out of work.

Toledo graphic design agency Spoke Design came up with a unique way to help since many of them rely on tips. It created a virtual tip box at ToledoTipJar.com.

Affected workers across our area can register on the site.

"Sometimes I pick up my phone and somebody sent me money and that's awesome because I'm not getting a paycheck from a business right now," Plate One barista Fiona Reid said.

Like so many others, Reid is out of work now during this crisis.

"I miss being there. I miss seeing my customers," she said. "I miss playing trivia. I mean we had a really strong family there and it's sad to be away from everyone."

The idea was inspired by Cleveland's Virtual Tip Jar.

"Anybody can come to the site and leave a random tip for an individual," Spoke founder Gene Powell said, "or go through our directory of about 80 plus establishments."

Powell said hundreds of workers from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have registered. The website has seen thousands of visitors since launching this week. 

His wife, Kelly Powell, who owns The Suburban Bottle in Perrysburg said with so many out of work and possibly waiting for unemployment, this is immediate.

"Workers in this industry, sometimes the wages are much lower than tips," she said, "so that tip income really helps them sustain their way of life."

Powell added that people may see now how essential these everyday workers are and how much their work matters.

"These are some of the hardest working people in our communities," he said. "They are public facing....this is a great opportunity for the community to show genuine appreciation for those individuals at a time when they need it the most."

Workers like Reid stressed this type of support is amazing because the community is going out of its way to show tangible support.

"I appreciate that they've given us this opportunity to come together," she said, and bring other people together and just make sure that we all get through this."

If you'd like to help someone, maybe a friend or favorite worker, or simply pay it forward to a random neighbor, just head to toledotipjar.com. It accepts Venmo, Paypal and Cash app.

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