As we enter into the season of gratitude this month, we reflect upon the generosity, dedication and hard work our partners, supporters and friends have demonstrated throughout the pandemic. It hasn’t always been easy to navigate a world that has forever changed in many ways, but we are inspired by what we have accomplished together to support the community, and local businesses, during this uncertain time.

Here are a few noteworthy projects for which we are grateful:

• Countertop Conversations: During the height of the pandemic, Scranton Tomorrow hosted a series of Zoom sessions for members of the business community. We shared vital information regarding COVID-19, developed promotional campaigns focused on supporting local, provided a much-needed opportunity for networking and welcomed guest speakers who covered timely issues including the city’s response to COVID, assistance in navigating the Paycheck Protection Program and guidance on how to adapt your business model.

The result: Dozens of local business owners were connected to resources, and each other, during a critical point of the pandemic.

• Electric City Connection: This project was developed by the University of Scranton in partnership with Scranton Tomorrow and Friends of the Poor. It served a dual purpose: to help Scranton residents facing food insecurity during the pandemic and support local restaurants coping with economic challenges due to COVID-19.

Here’s how it worked: Members of the community offered donations through Scranton Tomorrow’s website. Those funds were used to purchase gift cards or meals from participating local restaurants. Friends of the Poor distributed gift cards and meals to our underserved communities.

The result: Between March 2020 and April 2021, the project raised nearly $67,000, providing more than 4,000 meals to those in need, and supported 23 local restaurants.

• Meals for Medics: Through a partnership between Scranton Tomorrow and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Meals for Medics supported local health care workers and local restaurants. Third-year medical school students spearheaded the project during a critical time of the pandemic.

Here’s how it worked: We accepted donations through Scranton Tomorrow’s website and used those funds to purchase individually wrapped, hot meals from participating restaurants. Medical students delivered the meals.

The result: Between April and July 2020, we raised $7,600, providing 670 meals to all third shift staff members in four local hospitals, and supporting four local restaurants.

• Scranton City Pride cleanups and plantings: A new partnership with NeighborWorks of Northeastern Pennsylvania this year invigorated City Pride, a longstanding, annual Scranton Tomorrow beautification project.

The result: Together, we united nearly 300 volunteers who contributed more than 420 hours of service. They removed about 9,600 pounds of trash from city streets and sidewalks and planted more than 4,000 summer annuals – and they did it all in just one week. Volunteers serving our ambassador program continue the efforts year-round. To date, they have installed and maintained 140 planters in downtown Scranton.

Scranton Tomorrow’s foundation has been built on listening to our communities’ needs and building lasting partnerships to address those needs. The pandemic has challenged community partners to collaborate, brainstorm and collectively raise funds to bring forth sustainable, impactful outcomes. We’ll continue to work with our partners on annual initiatives, and develop new projects in support of a healthy local economy and thriving neighborhoods. We deeply appreciate the devotion our partners, supporters and volunteers.

Leslie Collins is the president

and CEO of Scranton Tomorrow, an economic development organization

in Scranton.