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Kids can help out, even with pandemic restrictions in place

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2020 9:27:04 PM
Modified: 4/2/2020 9:26:54 PM

When the COVID-19 pandemic came to the Upper Valley and social distancing took effect, people from around the region stepped up to help neighbors in need.

While many tasks only adults can take on such as running errands for neighbors who are at higher risk for developing complications from the novel coronavirus, there are ways that children can contribute to community efforts.

Angie Zhang, program services director at Listen Community Services and a coordinator with volunteer group UV Strong, said that ordinarily, Listen would encourage older children to volunteer in the Lebanon-based food pantry with their families, but due to social distancing guidelines they have to limit the number of people in the space.

“For the most part, the biggest suggestions we have are that kids can help with fundraising online — calling their relatives or other folks they know to contribute to a charitable cause,” Zhang wrote in an email. “For our food pantry, for instance, we’re encouraging donating cash so we can do more purchasing from the New Hampshire Food Bank. This helps us purchase more, since our dollars go further, but it also reduces people’s need to go to the grocery store and potentially be exposed.”

Carol Williams, assistant to the Middle School at Crossroads Academy, has been working on compiling a list along with other members of the Lyme-based school. Suggestions include making masks for health care workers at DHMC and other medical facilities in the region, writing thank-you cards to those on the front lines including grocery workers and trash collectors, offering to help a neighbor with yard work, and picking up trash while going for a walk.

“Kids can’t do remote learning all day long,” Williams said. “(Volunteering) brings communities together.”

Kate Plumley Stewart, of Enfield, polled parents in the area, and they came up with a handful of suggestions including volunteering to help their parents who are working from home by doing an activity with a younger sibling or take on more household chores. They could also try to connect with classmates by scheduling remote get-togethers where they color via videochat or reach out to a younger family member or friend to read them a book remotely.

Kids can also coordinate exercise activities or help pick up roadside trash on walks with their families. If children want to start gardening, they can plant extra seeds and give away vegetables once they grow. If they have a knack for cooking, they could deliver a hot meal to a neighbor in need.

But even for kids without any special skills, they can still do a lot by simply picking up the phone and calling family members who are staying in and might be feeling isolated.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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