Shop small today. Now that the turkey’s put away and the dishes are clean, let’s get on to the next tradition of this holiday weekend: shopping. Those who haven’t burnt out from Black Friday should take advantage today of Small Business Saturday, a chance for consumers to support small retailers in their own backyards. Online shopping and big-box stores have taken a bite out of these mom-and-pops, who often struggle to draw customers in this day and age to brick-and-mortar stores. Small Business Saturday is a chance to support these businesses and to reengage in the fun of everyday browsing. Shopapalooza returns to St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park this weekend, featuring more than 350 small businesses. The free event will be held between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today and Sunday. In Tampa, the Ybor City Saturday Market will be open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today at Centennial Park. Check Tampa’s Shop Small directory, or simply hit the many vintage stores in Seminole Heights and South Tampa. When in doubt, get a gift card. Even one small purchase can mean a lot to these locally owned businesses.
Unused Thanksgiving food? Speaking of ways to spend this long Thanksgiving weekend, how about going through some of those groceries you didn’t need Thursday to contribute to Tampa Bay residents in need? Area food banks are stocking up for the Christmas holiday season, and those canned goods you overbought for Thanksgiving would go a long way in helping those families who might otherwise go without. Food insecurity only increases anxiety among families in this already anxiety-laden season. So scan the cupboards and grab those cans of green beans or boxes of stuffing you didn’t use and find your local drop-off point. Tampa Bay has no shortage of reputable charities that can put your donated goods or cash contributions to good use. Metropolitan Ministries, Feeding Tampa Bay and a host of other civic and faith-based organizations need our help. Google them and spend this weekend making somebody’s Christmas holiday better.
Flu shots, anyone? Run one more errand on your way home from the food bank. The U.S. flu season is kicking into high gear, especially here in Florida, so this weekend is a great opportunity to get that flu shot ahead of the Christmas holiday season. Federal health officials say at least seven states are reporting high levels of illnesses, with cases rising in other parts of the country. Data posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed very high activity last week in Louisiana and high activity in Florida, Georgia and other southern states. The winter flu season typically ramps up in December, but it took off last year in October and made an entrance this year in November. So far this fall, the CDC estimates at least 780,000 flu illnesses, at least 8,000 hospitalizations and at least 490 flu-related deaths — including at least one child. About one-third of U.S. adults and children have been vaccinated against the flu, down compared to last year. It takes only a moment to protect yourself, your loved ones and colleagues, so get the vaccination while it’s front of mind.
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