OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two friends on Long Island are making a unique contribution to save struggling small businesses.

Short social media commercials are being donated to restaurant owners drowning in debt, free of charge, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.

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Things have been slow for Hasan Balkas at Brasserie Persil, the small Oceanside restaurant he owns.

“The cost of the containers, the plastic bags, the paper bags, they all skyrocket,” Balkas said.

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Patrons Len Oppenheimer and Doug Goodstein said they saw the writing on the wall for Brasserie Persil and other local shops they fear will go under.

“They are out there working super-hard, but like a drowning person can’t yell for help, can’t wave their arms, say come rescue me,” Oppenheimer said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

During a fishing trip , Oppenheimer and Goodstein came up with the idea to make and donate social media ads to help their friends. Oppenheimer set aside funds from his small packaging company and hired Goodstein, a video producer, to create them.

“I animated and put motion and life to their posts,” Goodstein said.

They use existing content and photos from the restaurants’ websites, eye-catching movement rather than text.

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“Here you have a story of Len, a small business owner, helping a small business restaurant owner helping me, an independent small business,” Goodstein said.

So far, Goodstein and Oppenheimer have produced and shared 10 30-second videos to help struggling Long Island businesses.

“I’ve since gotten calls from others who say they want to help out a restaurant near me, that I like to go to, so we’re trying to see if we can catch fire,” Oppenheimer said.

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On Monday, they presented Balkas with his own, unexpected, free ad.

“This is something really big, helping me and my staff. We have about 13 people who work here, so we can keep our doors open,” Balkas said.

They spend the money for a meal on a social media ad and now the charity is going full circle.

“I had a business owner tell me that without your ad I don’t know if we would have survived,” Goodstein said.

One more day, and another story of survival.

The first ad the friends created and donated reached 40,000 unique accounts. The owner of a family-run sushi said he’s no longer treading water.

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CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan contributed to this report

Jennifer McLogan