It’s very difficult to stay positive in these trying times.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has a vice grip on the world and it won’t let go. Our area has seen and felt the disastrous effects.

Children are off of school. Some adults are working from home. The Stock Market is in a freefall. Store shelves are bare. Selfish people are hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned food, cereal and other supplies.

It’s a strange world. Most of us have never seen anything quite like it in our lifetime.

While there are many who need support at this time — including anyone in the health field, law enforcement, the elderly, the immune-deficient, and more — we would like to focus on a segment of the population that has had its collective wind knocked out with a solid punch to the gut.

Small business owners and their employees are some of the hardest hit. Imagine working your whole life to build a business and then, suddenly, through no fault of your own, being forced to close your doors.

Imagine working paycheck to paycheck, relying on your modest wage, plus tips, to pay your bills and feed your kids. Then, in an instant, you are out of work.

We have scores of businesses and employees in our area who fit those categories. Bars, restaurants, salons and many more. Nearly every small business is feeling the pinch.

Bartenders, hairstylists, manicurists, food servers and others — it’s got to be stressful.

In this time of trouble, we encourage area residents to support local small businesses. Many restaurants, although closed for sitdown dining, are offering take-out and delivery. Please patronize these businesses — all small businesses — to help them survive.

For those who have taken part in Small Business Saturday in the past, remember how much fun it was to visit the local shops, cafes and stores and see the pride they took in their establishments?

For those who got caught up in the wave of excitement of the #MyMarinetteMenominee movement a couple years back, remember the thrill of having our community come tantalizingly close to being the subject of a makeover in the Small Business Revolution series? We didn’t make the final cut, but the local movement marches on.

Many of our small business owners have been generous in the community. They sponsor baseball and soccer teams, they advertise in high school sports programs and they donate to nonprofits and charitable causes. Many of them have gone above and beyond to make an impact.

Now is the time for local residents to return the favor. Go out of your way to help these citizens — they are your friends, neighbors and colleagues. When the dust settles and the coronavirus is defeated — and we’re confident the monster will be defeated — we want our local businesses to rise above, stand tall and prosper like never before.

For that to happen, they need our help.