ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local businesses are teaming up to help those hit hardest by the pandemic. The team at Sport Systems, along with the Homebuilders Association of Central New Mexico are set to announce their new initiative “Hand Up ABQ” on Monday.

The goal is to raise $100,000 to purchase gift cards at local restaurants to give them much-needed income during the quarantine. Sport Systems has jump-started the initiative with a $25,000 contribution worth of $10 gift cards from area businesses like Scarpas, Tomato Cafe, and Il Vicino.

“We were fortunate to do really well during this time and so we were finding a way to give back to the industries that we know like restaurants that are really hurting,” said Duane Kinsley, owner of Sport Systems. “People really resonate with this. They love their city, they love their food, and they want to keep these restaurants going.”

To qualify for the program, they ask that your restaurant is locally-owned, doesn’t have a drive-thru, and has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, including having to cut staff. Some local restaurants say it’s giving them hope in a tough time.

“I think it gives you a little hope and kind of brings the community together,” said Kurt Wagner with Tomato Cafe. “You feel good moving forward that not only will you be here today but you’ll be here in the future.”

“These cards are bringing in new customers and it’s exciting. It’s amazing what the program is going to be doing,” said Don Mader with Il Vicino. “I feel optimistic about what we can possibly do for our employees, increasing hours, bringing people back.”

Each gift card pack comes with an assortment of $10 gift cards from a local restaurant. Gift card packs are randomly selected and come in $50 packs that have five, $10 gift cards, $100 packs that have 10, $10 gift cards, and $250 packs that have 25, $10 gift cards. Those who buy the packs won’t know which restaurants will be in the envelopes, in an effort to encourage Albuquerque locals to try somewhere new. Some of the participating restaurants say they’re already seeing new customers as a result.

Others hope it will also have a trickle-down effect, seeing as some people, along with families, will likely spend more than the $10 gift card, giving the restaurants a bigger boost. Kinsley hopes other businesses will step up to give back.

“We’re challenging any business or industry or profession that wasn’t negatively harmed by COVID to help those that are,” said Kinsley. “We want to keep doing it every single week until they’re able to open.”

Sport Systems is currently helping restaurants including Christy Mae’s, Curry Leaf, Burritos Alinsante, Il Vicino, Satellite Coffee, Scarpas, Tomato Cafe, Weck’s, Mario’s Pizza & Ristorante, Monroe’s New Mexican Food, and more. Those who’d like to help out can do so on the Sport Systems website or you can buy the Hand Up ABQ packs at Sport Systems on Montgomery near Louisiana.