Flowers bloom on Massachusetts Street across from Delaney's and what used to be Tonic

Free Staters is hosting a fundraiser to support local Lawrence businesses that have been affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Free Staters, a coalition running in the 2020 Student Senate election led by Apramay Mishra and Grant Daily, launched a relief fund to support local businesses who are struggling to stay open during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Many business owners have had to close their doors permanently or temporarily to maintain social distancing regulations. Businesses such as Wake the Dead Breakfast Bar, which permanently closed on March 20, have been unable to maintain their operations as the spread of the virus has significantly affected their financial standings.

Presidential candidate Mishra said the idea was sparked in a discussion about their campaign finances, and the coalition decided they had to do what they could to help with Lawrence COVID-19 relief efforts.

“We were really inspired by the actions of Ladybird Diner and the way they stepped up in the community,” Mishra said. “[We] figured it was only right if we could help out in some way.”

Ladybird Diner, a local breakfast restaurant, has handed out free bagged lunches for those who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19. For the past three weeks, they have not only been giving out lunches, but also creating free pantry-boxes full of nonperishables to keep the community fed, according to their weekly Facebook updates.

Vice presidential candidate Daily said he is hopeful that by doing their part, Free Staters can help the community. Daily said he is excited to see his plan come to action in this trying time. 

“It isn’t often that we are positioned to help others, but when we are, we always make it a point to do so,” Daily said. 

The coalition posted a photo on the Free Staters Instagram page, asking its followers to donate money through Venmo.

Daily said the relief fund will run as long as it is necessary, noting that every donation is helpful to small businesses in Lawrence. Mishra and Daily have yet to determine which businesses they will be donating to.