Each Zelienople resident received a $50 eGift card to use at a borough small business or pay for utilities.By Shelby Cassesse

ZELIENOPLE, Pa. (KDKA) — Leaders in Zelienople want borough residents to shop local, and they’re giving them the money to do it.

The borough’s Shop Local Community eGift Card program started in early November to help ease the burden of the coronavirus pandemic on residents and local businesses.

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Zelienople Borough Councilman Drew Mathew III said the council used the borough’s money from the federal stimulus package to create its own local stimulus package.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“The money, yes, we could have used it for other things, but let’s give it back to where it helps everybody,” he said.

Each Zelienople resident received a $50 eGift card at the beginning of November. The gift cards were programmed to work only at Zelienople’s small businesses or to pay for utilities. The eGift cards expire in May.

Forty-three businesses opted into the program, including Elluinger’s Meats.

“So far, we’ve seen quite a bit of the cards come in,” said owner Michelle Elluinger.

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She says she’s seen the cards used at her shop to buy a round of groceries or put Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

“It is very meaningful,” Elluinger said. “It’s very helpful for a lot of the local businesses here on Main Street and it’s nice to see people shopping locally.”

From the deli counter to the jewelry display, the program made a big impact in its first month.

Shelly Mathew, the owner of Mathew Jewelers, says watching people use the eGift cards at her store has been a bright spot in a difficult year.

“Our community, it’s all small businesses,” she said. “It’s built on small businesses, and everybody loves our town. So it’s a way that everybody can give back.”

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Mathew added the borough is considering selling the gift cards after the program is over as a way to continue encouraging residents to shop local.