SCOTTSDALE (3 On Your Side) -- Over the past year, a virtual community of local families has emerged to support each other and the local business community, and it all started with the toilet paper shortage.

Go back in time. One year ago, store shelves were picked over and the essentials were often in short supply.

Lindsey Dempsey saw a need, and decided to create a barter and trade campaign through her website,

Since that day, Dempsey says hundreds of people have connected through her site and social media.

"What started as a barter and trade campaign turned into a virtual community that has stood by each other through this  whole experience," she said.

Throughout the year of the pandemic, Dempsey has coordinated a series of events from virtual field trips to socially distanced parades. The focus has always been on supporting local businesses.

"Businesses have been so creative, creating ways that they can still connect with their customers," Dempsey said. "And the businesses that have stayed top of mind are the ones that they’re going to be supporting first."

Though there are many positive signs in the local economy, Dempsey says many small businesses are still struggling and seeking assistance. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, nearly 40,000 Arizona businesses have received about $2.7 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans to date in 2021.


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