AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Agawam community is rallying together during the coronavirus outbreak.

What started as a good deed by one man has sparked a chain reaction of paying it forward to help local businesses.

The Java Stop in Agawam is continuing to grind, brew, and pour coffee through the coronavirus outbreak.

While they're safely serving everyone, they have a special tab dedicated to healthcare workers, where the community can donate a free drink to those on the front lines.

“The community has really stepped up and given the healthcare workers the caffeine they need,” said Craig Gurasz with The Java Stop.

They told Western Mass News that the idea for the tab started with the generosity of one man, backed by the community.

“Michael Perry came to me a few days ago and said ‘We’d like to start a tab for healthcare workers with $150,’ so I said ‘Well, let’s add $100 to it ourselves and how about if the community donates to it to?’ and it took off,” Gurasz added.

Going back to the beginning, when everything with coronavirus started to spiral and businesses started to close, Perry wanted to do something to help. That’s when he got the idea to buy gift cards to support local businesses.

Realizing he could only do so much on his own, Perry took his idea to Facebook and invited the community to join in through a raffle system.

“So I decided to purchase some gift cards and put them up for a raffle and then use those donated funds to purchase more gift cards and see if they can go somewhere. I purchased two gift cards, raffle them off, and now are using donated money for each consecutive raffle to purchase more gift cards and to donate money to different organizations in different ways,” Perrry said.

Each raffle ticket costs $5 and all the money raised gets funneled right back into the community.

“We’ve done a total of 16 locally-owned businesses, as well as we contribute some of the funds to the parish cupboard in West Springfield…It was three weeks ago today that we started it and as of today, we raise just over $3,000 and given it back to the local community, with no signs of stopping,” Perry said.

Some of those locations include:

  • Java Stop
  • Partners Restaurant
  • Take Five
  • Green Leaves to Go
  • Giovanni’s Italian Pastry
  • Main Street Deli
  • Parthenon Restaurant
  • Coopers
  • Agawam Flower Shop
  • JJ’s Soft Serve
  • Calabrese Market
  • EB’s

While this was intended to help local businesses, it’s grown into a pay-it-forward project that keeps on giving.

“Everyone’s rallying around each other offering help. I see everyone offering masks for other safety supplies to help healthcare workers. My experience has been people are terrific and very willing to help and very heartwarming to see everyone wanting to help,” Perry said.

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