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small town. big heart.

COVID-19. Pandemic. Global Crisis. Closed for Business. Shut Down. Economic Fallout. Sickness. Virus. Heartbreak. These words are now a part of our daily language. Since the pandemic declaration, it feels like we are partially holding our breath, waiting for the next press briefing and wondering what will come next. In times like these, I am thankful for my small-town life in southern West Virginia where people come together.

Although each day is filled with news stories of sickness and suffering, each day is also filled with a new story of hope, compassion, kindness, and encouragement. Normally, when I write an article, I talk with the people I’m highlighting to ask their thoughts and to find out why they’re working on a certain project, but this time I didn’t do that. For this article, the details are in their actions. People are pulling together, stepping up, and doing what they can to help others.

A few months ago, we highlighted I Can 2. If you remember, I Can 2 is a project by local resident, Heather Wolford. I won’t go back over all the wonderful details about this program since you can always click back

and read it for yourself, but I will tell you what she’s doing now. A few days go, a post on I Can 2 read, “Let’s do our part as a community and take the challenge of Chalk The Walk!”. After seeing posts circulating on social media encouraging people to add bright messages of hope and friendly reminders about CDC guidelines, Heather began promoting this on I Can 2. Is it just chalk on a driveway or sidewalk? No, it’s an activity to brighten someone’s day, provide inspiration, and a much-needed smile.

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

Based on the children’s book, “We're Going On A Bear Hunt, “ written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, Facebook groups are popping up all over social media asking people to place stuffed bears or any stuffed animal in windows for children to hunt! I know there’s several groups out there, but I was invited to be a part of the Belfry/Williamson Area Bear Hunt Group. According to the page, this group was started by Lynda Williamson. Since the group was created on March 27th, a ton of photos have been posted to the page. In addition to bears being added to windows in homes across the area, a Cat in the Hat and a teddy bear named Hope, now sits in the windows of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce office, better known as the Coal House in downtown Williamson. Several local businesses have joined the fun by placing bears in their windows for children to find too! It's great to know children are excited abut going on a bear hunt. Thanks to Lynda Williamson for starting this group page and helping provide fun for the kids!

Can You Sew?

With the shortage of masks for healthcare workers the community is being called upon for help. The request is, if you can sew, please consider making masks for front-line workers. I’m certain many people started sewing masks as soon as the request was heard. Looking at my personal Facebook, I see the posts of Wendy Barker and Naomi Henson. Wendy was the first one I noticed sewing masks. Then, I read a post from Naomi saying, “…I’m going to make some masks…if you want one let me know…no cost…just be kind to someone.” As I was typing this I read about another local, Gretchen Garland Hensley, being recognized as a WSAZ Hometown Hero for sewing and delivering over 500 masks! These ladies are just a few that are lending a helping hand in this effort.

Hot Meals & Extra Food

During this pandemic, the Williamson Housing Authority recognized the need for food assistance for their residents, especially the elderly. According to a post on the WHA Facebook page, they currently provide safe and affordable housing for approximately 500 individuals, with 85-100 of those households being elderly residents. Any WHA family with children in the home who need emergency food supplies to hold them over for a few days can contact their Family Resource Center for an emergency food box from their food pantry. For the 85-100 elderly households, Amber Spaulding, WHA Family Resource Director stepped up to lead a project providing home cooked meals each Friday to be dropped off at their front door. Amber decided this was something she could do to help these folks. Williamson Housing Authority and their Family Resource Network are going above and beyond in their job to ensure their residents feel safe, loved, and have their basic needs met during this situation. If you'd like to help Amber and the Family Resource Center with this project, they are in need of donations. You may contact their Facebook page or call 304-754-5526.

Not Enough Thanks

The thanks we could offer are endless. Those that encourage, step up to the tasks at hand, protect and serve, and those that just give us something to laugh about on Facebook, like Jessica Hackney. (Have you played FB live trivia with her or answered some of her questions? Craziness LOL) I hope we all find a little extra strength and inspiration from each of them. I know I do. Stay safe & healthy.

*Share your stories of kindness and thankfulness with us on our Facebook page. We'd love all the good vibes we can get.

We’re all in this together.

-Chris Dotson, Williamson Forward

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