KINGSTON -- Even as business has been tough for the last few months, one downtown Kingston restaurant is trying to give back.

On Tuesday, the Merchant Tap House, at 6 Princess St., is hosting ‘Nibbles for the NICU.’ The goal is to raise $10,000 for the Kingston General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit through the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation.

Owner Dave McNamara says it’s still difficult to talk about the day his son spent in the NICU, even after nine years.

“It’s very scary. You’re watching your child in the intensive care unit, you’re wearing a hazmat suit basically to go see your child,” explains McNamara. “But the staff are great, and I’ll never forget how well they treated my family.”

So when he got the opportunity to host a fundraiser for the department, he jumped on it.

“It’s a no-brainer to help out a charity, and it gives us a lot more passion for what we’re doing,” McNamara said.

Twenty-five per cent of all sales at the Merchant Tap House will go towards the goal of raising money for the hospital.

Clean Comfort Home Improvements will match donations up to $1,500.

A prize of two backstage access passes to a future The Glorious Sons concert in Ontario are also being raffled off, at $25 each.

It’s all with the goal of buying new web cameras for those in the NICU at KGH.

COVID-19 restrictions mean parents can only visit their child for six hours a day, and only one parent can be there at once because of physical distancing measures.

The cameras for all 24 beds in the NICU would cost $100,000 in all.

Stacey Wolfrom, the program director for Women and Childrens Health at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says the cameras are a new, sudden expense under COVID-19.

“One parent contacted us and told us that they’d had their baby for a whole month, and the two of them had never been standing side by side when seeing their baby,” she said.

Wolfrom says the equipment would be a window, during a scary, uncertain time.

“It’s basically like a live streaming event. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” she said. “The camera would always be aimed at their infant, it would be propped right on top of their incubator so they can always see whats happening.”

She also says they would allow communication with the medical team, so even if someone couldn’t be there in person, they could still be there virtually.

Nicole Pierce is the director of Health Care Advancements at the University Hospitals Foundation, which is raising the money.

She says small events are vital as COVID-19 cancels or drastically changes fundraisers which would usually bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s so wonderful and so amazing for us to see owners like Dave step forward, even though they are going though uncertain times, to make sure that our community, to make sure the parents, to make sure the patients, have the care that they deserve,” she says.

McNamara says the event will continue until the restaurant closes around midnight.

“If we don’t we’re going to do it again very soon until we raise over 10,000 dollars,” he said.

To make a direct donation to the cause online, visit this website.

To ensure the funds go to the NICU, select General donation and then in the dropdown menu under fund allocation choose other please specify and then in the box that appears type NICU.