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10 Women-Owned New Jersey Businesses Band Together To Support Local Haven For Women & Children

HO-HO-KUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Monday may have been International Women's Day, but it's really a week-long celebration in one New Jersey town.

Ten women-owned businesses that have leaned on each other throughout the pandemic are now banding together to support other women they don't even know.

From retail to eateries to beauty to travel, the ten businesses in Ho-Ho-Kus say they weathered a year of the pandemic's financial storm thanks to community support and each other.

"We were closed for 13 weeks, and we took a big hit," said Alexa Rae Mele, owner of Beauty By Alexa Rae.

But they're still going, and it's a blessing, says Mele.

The owners of nine other women-owned businesses in the borough feel the same way.

"People are shopping small with a purpose. They understand how their dollars affect their community," said Erika Menanteaux, owner of Luminous Beauty.

One night at Just Janice Café, the female entrepreneurs brainstormed how they could pay it forward.

Kathleen Feudi, store manager of J. McLaughlin, shared her plan to donate 15% of sales to the non-profit Oasis in Paterson, which serves women and children in poverty.

"It's kinda close to me, like my grandmother was a single mom," Mele said.

"Through Oasis, we're going to do this," said Janice Tinari, owner of Just Janice Café.

Oasis, founded by women for women, offers free GED and ESL classes and babysitting. It also provides daily hot meals and bags of food. Laetitia Cairoli, the director of development, says the need has tripled this year.

"People do still continue to wait on line," Cairoli said.

Monday to Friday this week, the ten Ho-Ho-Kus businesses are collecting items ranging from canned food to person hygiene to baby supplies, and each will donate a portion of proceeds to Oasis.

Feudi says some customers in recent weeks have told her they wanted to wait to make their purchase so that their money goes to a good cause.

"We have a lot of clothes in the back that are on hold," she said.

At most of these stores, when customers check out, the owners are educating them about Oasis and telling them where their money is going.

"To make our clients and our community aware that just down the road, there are people in need," Menanteaux said.

Oasis says private funds make up 96% of its budget and all fundraising events have been canceled. The nonprofit adds this is a one-of-a-kind effort that will change other women's lives in amazing ways.

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