Trying Times Heighten Need During Quiet Thanksgiving

            The Mattapoisett Council on Aging, with the assistance of local businesses and volunteers, has provided some Thanksgiving meals to those who otherwise would have gone without. According to COA Executive Director Jacqueline Coucci, the Friendly Callers connected with the “friends” with whom they have made wonderful connections over the past months.

            “Thanksgiving may be a national holiday, but we at the COA want to always give thanks to the many people who have been so giving to others throughout the year,” says Coucci. “People give to their family, friends, neighbors, strangers, through a friendly call, a visit (when we can), shopping for people, helping with yard work, shoveling, and any other support. Should anyone in the community like to know how they may help others, please contact the Mattapoisett COA at 508-758-4110.”

            The coronavirus pandemic has certainly limited how we celebrate Thanksgiving. The state recommends we confine our social distance to our households.

            “This year’s Thanksgiving will look different than previous years for many residents, and it is important to remember that COVID-19 has not gone away, and we must still be cautious,” said Marion Public Health Nurse Lori Desmarais in a press release. “We encourage residents to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday this year with those who live in their household to help limit the spread of the virus. We also urge residents to avoid large gatherings and continue to follow the proper precautions anytime you are in public and around people who do not live in your household.”

            The mobs common at the entryways to stores for Black Friday shopping deals will be missing, at least locally this year, and the Town of Marion has canceled its Festival of Trees event initially scheduled for Friday, November 27. Nonetheless, charitable efforts go forth, as Caitlin Collier of Mattapoisett Project 351 RST has announced a Hygiene and Hunger Holiday Food Drive.

            “Because of COVID-19, the number of people who are food insecure has almost doubled,” says Collier in a press release, urging residents to help those in need by donating canned goods, cereal, peanut butter, easy-open cans, and any other non-perishables. The needs list is not limited to food items, as soap, shampoo, feminine products, toilet paper, deodorant, laundry detergent, and new, packaged underwear and socks are welcome donations. Donors are invited to drop items into bins in the lobby of Old Rochester Regional High School from November 30 to December 18. Proceeds go to Good Shepherd’s Food Pantry.

            On November 20, Marion Town Administrator James McGrail, Council on Aging Director Karen Gregory, and Recreation Director Jody Dickerson hosted a Thanksgiving food distribution event at the Cushing Community Center. Residents under financial strain as a result of COVID-19 were invited to register to receive baskets of food and traditional trimmings for a Thanksgiving Day dinner, plus a gift card to buy a turkey.

            “As we approach the holiday season still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to make sure it remains possible for residents to celebrate the holiday even amid the hardships they may face due to the pandemic,” said Gregory in the town’s press release.

            Rochester’s Town Hall Annex building is closed beginning Thursday, November 26, and it will reopen next week (November 30 to December 4) only for phone calls, including SHINE program health insurance calls. The office will also close for Christmas on December 24 and reopen on January 11. Rochester seniors’ Coffee and Conversation activity has been canceled until Monday, December 7.

            According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traveling increases one’s potential to be exposed to COVID-19 and potentially spreading it to others. The CDC strongly recommends that people do not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Staying home and observing the holidays with those in your household or hosting a virtual celebration are the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

            While giant campus and house parties make the national news, the Marion Board of Health reminds us that small gatherings are also contributing to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. Massachusetts regulations limit outdoor residential gatherings to a maximum of 25 people, indoor gatherings to 10 people, and any such gathering is to end by 9:30 pm.

            All travelers, including Massachusetts residents who return from other states not classified as lower-risk, are required to complete a travel form and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result from a test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. The closest Stop the Spread testing sites are located in New Bedford.

            Any resident with questions or concerns is asked to contact the Marion Board of Health at 508-748-3530, Mattapoisett Health Agent Kayla Davis at 508-758-4100 ext. 213, or Rochester Health Director Karen Walega at 508-763-5421 ext. 201.

By Mick Colageo

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