Beginning within a week of the shutdown, the Chapel board and other donors have stepped in as workers have continued the slow process of getting unemployment compensation through the state, and waited for federal stimulus checks of $1,200 for individuals.

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SEASIDE — At 68 feet, the bell tower of The Chapel at Seaside is the tallest structure in the popular resort and residential community off Walton County Road 30A.

And in recent days, the chapel’s board, along with other people and organizations, have been standing tall to help the dozens of people who worked in the town’s commercial district.

The commercial district has been closed since March 21 — with the exception of food-service establishments, which have had the option to stay open for to-go orders — as part of the community’s work to ensure the safety and health of workers and visitors as COVID-19 became an ongoing public health problem across the country and the world.

►RELATED: CORONAVIRUS: Seaside commercial district won’t reopen April 30

Initial plans had called for the commercial district to reopen April 30, but the town’s leadership announced on April 18 that the reopening was being delayed in the interests of ensuring that the health and safety of both workers and visitors would be adequately protected. The town’s leadership does not yet have a specific date for reopening the commercial district.

“We are pretty missional by nature,” Chapel board president Gerald Meinecke said recently, explaining why the board is working to help the nearly 300 Seaside workers affected by the commercial district’s shutdown.

As might be imagined for a beachside location, the Chapel at Seaside is a popular wedding venue, and those weddings produce thousands of dollars annually in revenue at the Chapel.

In turn, Meinecke explained, that revenue is plowed back into the community.

In the wake of 2018’s Hurricane Michael, for example, the Chapel’s board steered $200,000 in wedding revenue, leveraged by an additional $200,000 in donations, to provide early relief to families affected by the storm that devastated the eastern end of the Panhandle. That assistance took the form of $2,500 checks placed directly into individual’s hands, Meinecke said.

The Chapel board has taken a similar approach with the workers either furloughed or laid off as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Beginning within a week of the shutdown, the Chapel board and other donors have stepped in as workers have continued the slow process of getting unemployment compensation through the state, and waited for federal stimulus checks of $1,200 for individuals.

As of just a few days ago, the Chapel board, all of whom are Seaside homeowners, and none of whom have any investment in any Seaside business, had steered $200,000 to that effort, augmented by $150,000 in individual donations and another $100,000 in anonymous donations.

►RELATED: CORONAVIRUS: Seaside taking careful approach to issues of reopening commercial district

In addition, the ongoing effort to assist Seaside workers has benefited from a $150,000 donation from the Robert Davis Family Foundation and Micah Davis of the Seaside Community Development Corporation. Robert Davis is the founder of Seaside, and Micah Davis is the son of Robert and Daryl Davis.

“We were thrilled with what the response has been,” Meinecke said.

That $600,000 in donations has been provided to Seaside workers in what thus far has been four separate rounds of distribution, Meinecke explained. A worker who has qualified for all four rounds of distribution — the Chapel board and other donors are relying on Seaside business owners to identify workers needing the assistance — will have by now received $2,400 in assistance, according to Meinecke.

The effort to assist the Seaside workers, who are now in limbo as the reopening of the commercial district is being planned, is continuing, with the Chapel board reaching out for additional donations.

Donors can contribute to the effort online at http://thechapelatseaside.com/donate/. Checks can be mailed to: The Chapel at Seaside, P.O. Box 4936, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.

The money has, quite understandably, been very much appreciated by Seaside workers. A letter from one recipient, posted on the Seaside website, reads, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I opened the envelope and almost fell to my knees in tears. The check is such a blessing to me and my daughter. I was down to the last $12 in my bank account and praying for some type of miracle. Then that miracle came today!”