KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — With the coronavirus pandemic making downtowns seem like ghost towns, about 100 Western Michigan University business students are trying to help soften the blow by promoting local companies.

“In the Leadership and Business Strategy program, it was really our point of view that we need to figure out our way to help others in their time of need and everyone has a role to play,” Haworth College of Business Professor Doug Lepisto said. “What we did is we pivoted to figure out ways that we could help businesses in a safe way at a distance.”

Students created 50 videos to lift up and recognize companies that are working hard through the crisis, helping both the school and its neighbors.

“We decided to challenge ourselves to make videos and help others during this time and really highlight those Michigan brands that need business during this time and are going to need help after this crisis,” Logan Mulholland, a junior in the business program, said.

“It was such a cool feeling to be able to impact others positively during the crisis,” sophomore Tyler Earnst added.

The effort is inspired by one of the program’s partners this semester, Rhino Media, who will be giving the students feedback and choosing the three best tapes.

“Once COVID clears up, what we’d like to do is get with each of those teams that produced those three winning videos and help them take their production value up to a professional level and work with those businesses, as well, just as a show of gratitude to the students and the businesses in the community,” Rhino Media COO Jason Bull said.

It has been a semester full of firsts and changes to the syllabus, but those in charge agree it has been one of the most successful yet.

“They put unbelievable hours into this,” Lepisto said. “They were creative, improvisational, entrepreneurial. It’s great to see students get after it and work into crisis instead of backing away. And that’s what our students did — they leaned into crisis to help other people and that’s really great to see.”

Rhino Media will choose the three winning student videos early next week.