The year 2020 took a toll on all New Yorkers, but particularly on our neighbors down in Chinatown—alongside grappling with the economic collapse of the pandemic, Chinatown residents and businesses have had to endure racial stigma and ignorant rhetoric tied to ill-founded COVID fears over the past months. But now it’s the season of giving, so what better time to give one of our favorite New York neighborhoods a little boost? Whether ordering delivery and takeout from the district’s best dim sum restaurants, checking off our gift list at the best shops in Chinatown, or donating directly to relief efforts, here’s how we’re showing love to Chinatown this season.
1. Snag some sweet swag
Looking for a cool present for that Gotham-loving giftee on your list? Wrap up some fresh Chinatown-inspired merch, with proceeds benefitting the small businesses and charitable initiatives fighting for the community. Grassroots non-profit Welcome to Chinatown partnered with Pearl River Mart to roll out a Chinatown Collection, repping local spots like Hop Kee, Xi’an Famous Foods and the Museum of Chinese in America with T-shirts, trucker hats, even umbrellas. The org also collaborated with area eateries and volunteer designers for a Made in Chinatown merch program, starring venues such as Jing Fong, Soft Swerve, and Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle.
2. Stock up on gift cards
Speaking of presents, you already know that gift cards and certificates make excellent stocking stuffers. But instead of getting your friends and family another snooze-worthy Amazon card, opt for something more personal—say, a meal out on the town at one of your favorite Chinatown restaurants? Some venues like Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Golden Diner have gift cards available directly on their website, but if you're looking to help out low-tech, cash-only O.G. spots, you can purchase vouchers or make a direct donation through Send Chinatown Love, an online initiative helping to digitize small mom-and-pop businesses across New York's Chinatowns.
3. Run your everyday errands
With streets teeming with everything from seafood markets to specialty shops, pharmacies to record stores, Chinatown seemingly sells everything under the sun. So take advantage! Even if you don't live in the nabe cradled by the Lower East Side and Little Italy, that doesn't mean you can't spend an afternoon checking off everything on your to-do list there. The Think!Chinatown collective offers an updated directory of grocery stores and produce markets, and the Chinatown Partnership has a database for open essential businesses.
4. Donate $$$ to relief efforts
Along with frequenting businesses and restaurants to drive up immediate revenue, you can also donate your dollars to COVID-19 recovery relief funds. Welcome to Chinatown launched the Longevity Fund this year, a relief fund aimed at raising and distributing $200,000 in grants to help 40 hard-hit, at-risk small businesses alleviate overhead costs (rent, utilities, etc) in Manhattan's Chinatown. The Chinese Planning Council is also running a relief fund for essential services, including PPE for frontline workers, free meals for seniors, etc.
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