Inside Howie Mandel's Mission to Help Small Businesses During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Howie Mandel is using his time in isolation to support local businesses, and has found a way for anyone to get involved.
The America’s Got Talent judge has teamed up with social retail platform talkshoplive to launch an initiative assisting small business owners in reaching customers, telling their story and selling their products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twice a month, the comedian will profile a new small business on his talkshoplive channel.
“All these people who run small businesses, they supply us, and the money they make goes into the economy,” Mandel tells PEOPLE exclusively. “That is the lifeblood of America, you know — free enterprise, the American dream.”
A portion of all proceeds from talkshoplive’s “Save Small Business” campaign will be donated to No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. For Mandel, 64, it’s an important to find a way to give back amid the current pandemic.
”Whether it is your platform, whether it is your celebrity, whether it is just the luck of your health right now, whether it is access to a phone or whatever, I think that everybody has to reach out and do their part,” says Mandel. “We find people who are kind of struggling at these times, who have a great story to tell, and help them sell their wares.”
The first company Mandel is profiling is Illinois baking company Hungry Monkey, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in May.
“Founder Cindy Kienzle is the sweetest lady in the world and she sells these amazing baked goods,” Mandel adds. “But people aren’t going into a bakery anymore, so this is a great opportunity for her with social distancing because she could ship products all over.”
RELATED: Teachers Put on Parade for Their Students While Social Distancing
On talkshoplive, Mandel and Kienzle will highlight Hungry Monkey’s “Social Distancing Treat Box” which includes their Signature Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, an Original Banana Bread and over a pound of their Triple Chocolate Brownies.
Mandel’s America’s Got Talent co-star Heidi Klum recently faced a COVID-19 scare, revealing she tested negative for the virus after experiencing a bad cold.
“She’s feeling all better,” says Mandel, adding that he talks to Klum every day. “I was really worried for her first and then worried for us because we were all sitting next to her. But she seems to be healthy and happy, and we all just want to get our lives back.”
The Canadian comedian is taking social distancing seriously, but admits it has made it difficult to spend quality time with his family.
“The tough part is my kids are grown, they all live in their own houses, so I’m visiting my grand kids by climbing a tree and looking in the window,” says Mandel. “As much as there are moments that are really heartwarming, there are moments that are really hard.”
“I know we’re all gonna come out the other side of this, but I hope that we think differently about our loved ones and friends and how important humanity is,” he adds.
To join Mandel on his mission to keep small businesses thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, follow his channel on talkshoplive and tune in April 1st at 7 p.m. ET.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.