Floyd County businesses support local community with food, sanitizer during coronavirus pandemic

Local business owners use their time and supplies to help Southern Indiana residents and brighten people’s lives


John Clere

Donum Dei, a brewery located in New Albany, has been using its facility to make hand sanitizer for the Floyd County community.

Anna Smith, Photo Editor

Ever since Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb ordered restaurants and non-essential businesses to close, Floyd County restaurant and business owners have been finding new ways to stay connected with customers and help the community during this difficult time.

Holcomb ordered restaurants to close their dine-in options on March 16 and ordered non-essential businesses to close to the public on March 23.

Repurposing a Local Brewery

Floyd County is experiencing a shortage of hand sanitizer. Donum Dei Brewery is helping with that problem.  The brewery is using its supplies and facilities to make hand sanitizer.

“The community has needs, and we make the raw material for hand sanitizer. We just want to do the right thing,” Richard Otey, the owner of Donum Dei Brewery, said.

The sanitizer is made of 130-proof alcohol and with xanthan gum as a thickener.

“It’s a 65% alcohol solution,” Otey said.

Donum Dei Brewery has been making on average five gallons a day. The sanitizer has been donated to first responders and assisted living facilities. Autumn Woods Health Campus received two gallons last week.

Donum Dei is offering the sanitizer to the public as well if they bring their own bottle. Donum Dei Brewery is located on Grant Line Road. The first hour of business, 2 to 3 p.m., is set aside for the elderly and the immunocompromised. The brewery is open from 3 to 7 p.m. to the public for growler fills.

Meals for Locals

Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department is supporting residents of Floyd County and Clark County by delivering meals.

The meals are for anyone who is having trouble getting out, such as elderly people, the immunocompromised or people needing help to feed their families. The hours are currently 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

“In the last week or so we’ve been putting in 10 to 12 hour days. It kind of took off on us,” Karen Tweedy, the deputy chief at the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department, said. “We’re doing what we can.”

People are instructed to call the fire department at (812) 246-6655 and ask if they are giving away food. They will then be asked how many are in their household and their address. The department is doing deliveries and sending two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners to feed families for a few days.

“For the families, we have snacks for the kids, oranges, apples and Little Debbie’s, you know, kids like sweets,” Tweedy said.

The fire department is taking both food and monetary donations to help them keep making meals for the community. They are also working with their local food pantry. If anyone would like to donate, they can call Karen Tweedy at (812) 246-6655 and bring it to the firehouse on East Utica Street in Sellersburg. Tweedy can also come and pick it up.

Illustration by Emily Elliotte

Gift to the Community

Aebersold Florists on Silver Street in New Albany have been surprising locals with the gift of azalea plants that they normally sell for $35 each.  The florist has only been able to do deliveries since all non-essential businesses were ordered to close.

The delivery drivers are given the azalea plants and then told to just drop them off wherever they go at people’s doors.

“It is random, I think that’s the neatest part of it, nobody’s expecting it,” Lana Aebersold, the co-owner of Aebersold Florist, said.

The employees at Aebersold Florist have wrapped the plants up in foil and a bow and card are then added to each azalea. The card reads as follows: “Kindness can be the greatest gift you can give to a person. Especially when they are not expecting it. During this time of darkness, we hope to bring you a little light. Please enjoy this beautiful azalea on us. Love, Aebersold Florist.”

More than 300 azalea plants have been given away. Aebersold Florist started with 1000.

“We’re still giving them away,” Aebersold said. “I’m hoping everybody knows that they can be planted in their yard to come back every year and get bigger and bigger.”

Aebersold decided to give the plants out because the Easter services have all been canceled and Easter is a time when they sell the most azaleas.

“What we’ll do is just give them away, we thought it could make people happy,” Aebersold said.

They have received numerous phone calls from people saying how happy and surprised they were by the azaleas.

Illustration by Shelby Pennington

“It’s a gift from us to our community. It’s just a good thing to do and makes us feel good too,” Aebersold said.

Aebersold Florist is currently open for deliveries and curbside pickups at their New Albany location on Monday to Friday from 8 to 3 p.m.

So IN This Together

The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Brooklyn and The Butcher and Sampan Screen Printing have worked together to create t-shirts to support laid-off workers from their businesses. The shirts have a design that says “So IN This Together” and they are $20 each. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the workers who were laid-off.

Elaine Kittrell, the general manager of Sampan Screen Printing, and Ian Hall, the owner of The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, have worked together in the past. They once again collaborated on this fundraiser to support the laid-off workers.

The t-shirts are for sale at sointhistogether.com and can be picked up at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen or Brooklyn and The Butcher or even shipped to customers’ homes.

“It keeps us busy and keeps our employees busy so that’s a great thing. It’s a win, win for everybody,” Kittrell said. “We are just trying to get out there and do better things for the community right now.”