In the last few weeks, one local business family has “taken the bull by the horns” in Nevada.

Marc and Amber Olson and their team at RE/MAX Concepts have stepped up with a growing array of initiatives to keep the community connected during the present COVID-19 State of Emergency.

From partnering with Ben Franklin to deliver necessities to those not comfortable venturing out, to sponsoring a weekly $19 gift card which supports local restaurants, the Olsons continue to come up with ways to help during what some would call a “rather dark” time.

“We felt like it was important to be a resource to our community and help out any way that we can,” said Marc, a Nevada native who is in his 15th year selling real estate in the area. He opened RE/MAX Concepts in 2015.

Amber, who taught first and second grade at Central Elementary School from 2006 to 2015, when the couple’s third child was born, is right there with her husband when it comes to helping the community.

“We wanted to focus our attention and energy on ways we could help others,” said Amber, who earned her real estate license in 2016 and now helps with their business.

Amber said she and her husband tell their kids, “it’s all about how you react to situations.”

“We know what we are all going through is challenging, so we want to be able to focus on what good can come out of this. We decided to focus on the positive and look for ways that we can make a positive impact by reaching out to the community,” she said.

“Our goal during this time,” Marc added, “has been to spread cheer by safely keeping our distance.”

The first project they did was to partner with Ben Franklin in Nevada and offer to help deliver necessities to those not comfortable going outside their homes during the pandemic.

“At the time, our oldest son would go with Marc to help deliver the goods,” Amber said. “It’s important to us to get our kids involved in as much as possible.”

“Amber enjoys showing (the kids) how easily kindness can spread … Even if it’s just opening the door for someone or asking if they would like help,” Marc said.

The next initiative they embarked on was one that could help local businesses, starting with restaurants in the community.

“Marc thought of the idea to give away a $19 (gift card) during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Amber said, and they did so by putting up a Facebook post showing a business which is drawn for each Thursday. People can comment on why they love that business, and one of those commenters becomes the winner of the gift card.

“It’s been fun reading all the comments about what they love about that particular business,” Amber said. “Comments range from their favorite meal there, how nice the owners/employees are to sharing personal memories with us that they had with a special person in their life connected to that business.”

So far, weekly drawings have supported Snack Time, MiCasita, and this week, Starbuck’s Drive-In.

With Easter coming this weekend, their latest focus has been on organizing a big Easter egg hunt for the children and also working with Nevada Public Safety to have a fire truck cruising around town with the Easter Bunny aboard. The Easter egg hunt can be done any time between 9 a.m. on April 11 and 9 p.m. on April 12 by families who can take a walk or drive and see how many Easter eggs they can find in businesses and residential windows.

“The family with the most eggs found (after submitting their total to the Olsons) will win a prize,” Amber said.

“We also reached out to the Nevada Jaycees about borrowing their bunny costume, and they were more than happy to partner with us, as was the Nevada Fire Department,” Amber said. Parents can encourage their children watch for the Easter Bunny to ride through their neighborhood on the fire truck Easter Sunday.

The Olsons have also been active in coordinating birthday parades past children’s and people’s homes on their special day.

“We’ve organized parades for the littles as young as 5, to a few 40th birthday celebrations to an 85-year-old,” Amber said.

Another fun activity they’ve done is provided snacks to different businesses on a “national observance day.” Amber said a few weeks ago, for National Doctor’s Day, they drew chalk pictures outside McFarland Clinic and Story Medical Center in town to show all doctors that they are appreciated. This activity, she said, led to a relationship with the local hospital’s COVID director.

“We found out that Story Medical needed elastic headbands along with fabric to make homemade masks. So we asked for donations on our Facebook page.”

The couple encourages people to be on the look for for their various initiatives by following the “Marc Olson Real Estate, MORE Team at RE/MAX Concepts, Nevada” page on Facebook.

One more project that Amber took on recently was to develop a COVID-19 business directory through Facebook. She created a page called “Nevada, Iowa Business Updates” to keep community members informed of changing hours, closures and announcements about local businesses.

“Our local Nevada businesses have been laying heavy on our hearts,” Amber said. “We want to see everyone succeed, so we’ve been thinking about how can we help?”

The page was started just this past week, as a place to ask questions about area businesses and for businesses to post updates. Amber also created an up-to-date spreadsheet of what she knows about business hours and rules during this pandemic.

“This Facebook group – “Nevada, Iowa Business Updates” – is one place people can go to find information on local business hours, who is offering take-out/delivery, menus and any other updates,” she said. The page already has 450 members. “I do feel like there is a strong need to continue supporting our businesses, and to accomplish this, people want to know where they can easily and quickly gather their information to do so.”

Amber continued, “We are all going to get through this together… We just need to take it day by day and know that our community is strong.”

With everything the Olsons and their team have been trying to do, they say it’s been a humbling experience, and they are very appreciative of all the community members that have supported and helped.

“We will emerge from this pandemic stronger and even more united,” Marc said, “because of the commitment to strengthen our community, looking out for one another and choosing every day to engage and help others.”