SOUTHWICK, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A cafe owner in Southwick has had to come up with creative ways to keep her small business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her ideas have not only managed to keep her employees paid, but it’s also helping to spread kindness throughout the community.

Red Riding Hood's Basket in Southwick, also known as The Hood Café, opened their doors just days before the coronavirus pandemic hit Massachusetts - altering the way this seasonal business is run.

“We opened March 13 for three days full-time and then we were told we had to go part-time or takeout only, we went to take out,” said owner and manager Moe Shea.

That’s when Shea came up with the idea to create care packages for her customers.

“I tried to make something that made my life easier and made it easier for them,” Shea explained.

Brown paper bags are filled with some of the best items the Hood Café has to offer.

“A care package is...we have three options. The most popular is either soup...you get a quart of our homemade soup, which is awesome.  We make it from scratch, so it’s lower sodium, which a lot of people like, or you get a container of our homemade pecan-chicken salad, then you get homemade bread, which is what we are kind of known for. It’s awesome and then, you get two homemade cookies. Our care packages are really $18.82, so with tax, they are $20, so if people can, if they want to buy one, they want to donate one, it’s a really easy thing people can do,” Shea explained.

Shea told Western Mass News the care packages started with loved ones giving them to family members, then it grew to complete strangers donating packages to essential workers.

“From there, we started taking donations and we just started asking people who needs a pick-me-up.  It doesn't have to be a financial hardship, it could be.  It could be physical, like they're just home-bound.  It could be emotional, like this is hard and people feel seen," Shea added.

The Hood Café also joined forces with Our Lady of the Lake Church, allowing them to deliver paper goods along with care packages.

“We got enough donations for 128, instead of 50, which is amazing and there is still more money coming in. We also asked people for toilet paper,” Shea said.

Shea said although it has been a difficult time adapting to these new changes, she said the Hood Café has been gaining popularity.

“We are a lot better off than a lot of businesses right now and that’s a lot of creativity and ingenuity and determination,” Shea noted.

Shea said even when her small business is able to fully open, she is still going to keep up the creative business concept that has worked so well for her and the community.

“If they continue to get new people in the door and get people excited about quality, good homemade food, then why not,” Shea said.

If you want a care package for yourself or someone you know you can call the cafe at (413) 569-2300 during business hours, which are Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can also order online

If you would like to donate a care package to someone in financial, physical, or emotional need, order online and select ‘Care Packages’. In the dropdown menu, choose ‘Donation as needed’. You can make a check out to Red Riding Hood’s Basket and mail it to:

  • Our Lady of the Lake Church
  • ℅ Diana David
  • P.O. Box 1150
  • Southwick, MA 01077

If someone is a leader of a community (such as church, social group, or club) and would like to get care packages for members of their community that are in need, email Moe Shea or email Diana David at his is a pay it forward system.

Red Riding Hood's Basket asks that communities share the program and its mission and donate packages forward if able.  There is no cost to get packages that have been already donated, but they do ask if there is a large list of people in need to find their own community members to deliver and coordinate a pick-up date with the cafe. 

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