In this Sunday, March 29, 2020, photo, groceries loaded in plastic bags are seen after a shopping trip in Portland, Ore. An anonymous donation is allowing Damariscotta’s Main Street Grocery to distribute $9,500 in gift cards to first responders and out-of-work restaurant staffers. Credit: Gillian Flaccus | AP

Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support our critical reporting on the coronavirus by purchasing a digital subscription or donating directly to the newsroom.

An anonymous donation is allowing Damariscotta’s Main Street Grocery to distribute $9,500 in gift cards to first responders and out-of-work restaurant staffers.

This week, $3,000 worth of $50 gift cards to the store were split between the Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service and the Damariscotta Fire Department as a way to thank emergency personnel for their service during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

Last week, $6,500 in $50 gift cards, 130 of them, were given to area restaurants and distributed to employees who are out of work.

The restaurants include Crissy’s Breakfast and Coffee Bar, the Damariscotta River Grill, Deb’s Bristol Diner, King Eider’s Pub, the Newcastle Publick House, Oysterhead Pizza, and S. Fernald’s Country Store.

King Eider’s Pub, of Damariscotta, provides a weekly dinner for all employees every Friday. Last Friday, April 3, in addition to a prime rib dinner, employees received a $50 gift card to Main Street Grocery.

“Things like the gift card, $50 in groceries, that really helps,” said Hannah Meneses, a manager at King Eider’s who also works as a fitness instructor at the Central Lincoln County YMCA.

Because of COVID-19, however, Meneses has lost both jobs for now. She is on unemployment, but said it does not make up for the lost income.

Meneses said she is fortunate her husband, Juan Meneses, can work from home and still has an income, but it is still a challenging time. Meneses has two children, a 15-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son, who live with her and her husband in Newcastle.

Meneses said a silver lining of the stay-at-home order is more family time. The family eats dinner together and goes for walks each night, and she has seen her children develop closer bonds with each other.

“He’s super excited to have Mommy home all the time,” she said of her son.

“I’m really proud of Damariscotta for rallying together,” Meneses said of the community support that has cropped up since the COVID-19 crisis hit. “It seems like everyone is working together to keep each other safe.”

Watch: What does returning to normal look like?

[bdnvideo id=”2961445″]