ITHACA, N.Y. –– As many businesses have taken a hit due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a virtual “Ithaca Tip Jar” has been created in order to support local service industry workers who have suffered income losses as a result.

The tip jar is operated as a sort of “phone book” –– people submit their name, workplace and the payment service through which they can receive tips. Local bartenders, waitstaff, hairdressers and others who rely on tips are encouraged to fill out the online form to have their info added.

“These are people who are not only friends and family, but also people we rely on,” said Matthew Kopel, who started the tip jar. “If we want them to be there (when this is over) we have to support them now.”

Kopel, who now works at Cornell, said he has experience working a job where he relied on tips, and recognizes how essential they are to people in the service industry.

“I don’t rely on tips anymore, but I’m not far from having been there,” he said.

The model of the tip jar is inspired by a jar started in Pittsburgh.

Money is not being collected centrally in any way, and Kopel wants people to be aware Individuals who wish to send a tip are encouraged to independently verify the legitimacy of the recipient of the tip. The list is self-reported by members of the community and information is provided “as is.” 

Hundreds have added their information to the tip jar page, and submissions are rolling.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at