BRANDON, Fla. — This Thanksgiving, some families are avoiding the grocery store and cooking. Instead, they want to give local businesses a boost.
For the crew at LivyO's, there's no time to slow down. Employees at their Brandon location are boxing up school lunches for several charter schools. Their boss, Lennise Germany, continued to jot down last-minute Thanksgiving orders.
It's a dizzying pace, but Germany is thankful for it, especially compared to the top of the year.
"When COVID first hit, we had zero operations. Every event we had on the calendar was completely canceled through September," Germany said. "We lost close to $300,000."
To make matters worse, the same day she received the email from the state to shut down, the Germanys learned their 12-year-old son, Omar, was diagnosed with cancer.
"It was a personal hit as well as a business, economic hit," she said.
The days turned into months, and less money was coming in as more money went to Omar's chemotherapy. But time heals all, and now Omar is tumor-free, and LivyO's decided to pivot to a new business plan.
"We started noticing that we should probably do something around that five to 10 or maybe 12 at the most kind of meal. And that's what we went with," Germany said.
In a time like this where big gatherings aren't safe, those small Thanksgiving meals have proven to be popular.
"I've gotten an enormous amount of text messages that started with, 'I'm not cooking this year. How can you help,'" Germany said.
Customers put in orders from several sides, lots of baked goods, and some want the whole meal, bird and all. The crew at LivyO's worked around the clock to get meals out by Wednesday afternoon. A sacrifice Germany says is worth it to help families spend time and make memories.
"They're going to be eating LivyO's food and conversing and loving and being thankful, and I'm over the moon ecstatic about being able to provide that level of love and comfort."