We are all making adjustments and navigating this unprecedented situation the novel coronavirus has created in the last few weeks. Despite the social distancing and closures that have kept many of us physically separated from each other, people in our community are hard at work crafting ways for us to stay connected, encouraged and engaged during these uncertain days. Here are some of the inspiring efforts we’ve come across lately.
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1. Wildcats Daily Drawing
Art students in the Columbiana area are finding ways to be creative through social media. Columbiana Middle School art teacher Carla Keathley is hosting a Wildcats Daily Drawing through Instagram. Students can create a daily doodle and share it using the hashtag #wildcatdailydrawing. And Shelby County High School art teacher Michelle Branson (@schsartroom on Instagram) is challenging her students to recreate famous masterpieces and share them with the class.
2. Virtual Animal Encounters and Park Tours
Can’t make it out to one of Alabama’s state parks in person right now? You can visit Oak Mountain State Park’s Facebook page to watch virtual animal encounters, discover fun things you can do outside and learn more about the different parks via video technology.
The Shelby County Chamber has launched a virtual networking forum and, along with 58 INC., a Business Toolkit to support local businesses. The #ShopShelbyCounty social media campaign—a virtual take on networking often utilized by businesspeople at traditional Chamber events—allows businesses to share the steps they are taking to navigate the days ahead. Consumers can support local businesses by shopping online with them, ordering food to go, using available curbside service for groceries, buying gift cards or certificates to use immediately or later and using the hashtag #ShopShelbyCounty when posting on social media to help promote these businesses.
4. Feeding the Need
Local school systems, businesses and organizations have been working hard the last couple weeks to make sure students and families have an adequate supply of food at home during the pandemic. Vineyard Family Services is still operating its BackPack Buddies program. With the help of sponsors, VFS is coordinating with more than 40 school counselors in three school systems to support 1,000 Buddies and families during this time. Those who want to help may make a financial donation at Vfsdads.com. In addition, businesses like Chubbfathers in Alabaster have collected donations and assembled free food bags to distribute to families in need.
5. Virtual Group Workouts
With social distancing and limited gatherings in full effect, many gyms have started to offer online options for people wanting to stay physically active while at home. Chelsea Family Fitness is offering group exercise classes online. Visit Chelsea Family Fitness on Facebook for more information and to sign up. The YMCA of Greater Birmingham is offering virtual fitness programming until local facilities are able to reopen and resume normal classes and operations. Go to Ymcabham.org/virtualfitness or one of the local branches’ Facebook pages (Alabaster YMCA, Pelham YMCA and Greystone YMCA) for more information.
6. Grocery Delivery
KATs Delivery existed long before the novel coronavirus surfaced, but this local food delivery service is in high demand now as people heed warnings and stay at home. Owner Maurice Mercer says the business has prioritized the diligent cleaning of delivery bags, keeping hand sanitizer on each person, forgoing signatures on orders and other measures to help protect the customers and couriers. Visit Katsdelivery.com for more information about services.
7. Byron Thomas Live Stream Event
Jazz and gospel pianist Byron Thomas will perform in the first of the Shelby County Arts Council’s Quarantined Series “Sanitized for your Protection” on Wednesday, March 25. Tune in at 3 p.m. here (login is free, but all “tips/donations” go to the artist). Go to the Shelby County Arts Council Facebook page for more details.
8. Giving Supplies and Delivering Treats
Resident Kylie Anderson has been organizing and setting up at different locations to hand out supplies to those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. She has used donations to buy items like toilet paper, water, bread, snacks, juices and hand sanitizer, sometimes delivering supplies to people who can’t leave their homes. Plus, she has delivered treats to local retail employees to lift their spirits. Anyone interested in helping Kylie can send donations through Cashapp at $kyliebug2001 and Venmo at @kylie-anderson-40, or by reaching out through Facebook.
9. Supporting Shelby Humane
Although the Shelby Humane Society’s facility is temporarily closed to the public to protect the staff as they continue to care for the animals, you can support the shelter through adoption, volunteering or fostering. Message Shelby Humane or look through the Facebook photo album to see the 25 dogs available for immediate adoption by appointment. Visit Shelbyhumane.org to complete an adoption, volunteer or foster application.
10. Making Masks
Deedra George and her employees at By George alterations shop in Helena have been busy sewing face masks for health care workers who need them in light of a recent shortage of available medical masks. You don’t have to know how to sew to help, though. You can donate materials by calling Deedra at (205) 663-7004, or visit the By George Facebook page for updates.
How are you seeing neighbors helping neighbors in this season of COVID-19, and who in Shelby County needs financial or volunteer support? We’re collecting more stories to share online, on social media and in print. Email Editor Emily Sparacino at firstname.lastname@example.org with any stories or information you’d like to share, or message @shelbylivingmagazine on Facebook or Instagram.