Tabitha Gedde wondered what the average person could do to help lessen the troubles associated with social isolation, which has increased further as elderly residents distance themselves from others voluntarily or through limited public access.

At home with her kids, Gedde soon found the group could practice their art skills and writing by making cards for those not able to have visitors at this time. She put out a call for places to send to and soon had reason to crank out a pile of papers -- each sprayed down with disinfectant.

“We delivered to three Wadena and one local nursing/assisted living homes today,” Gedde said via Facebook on Monday. “Over 120 pictures/letters made from caring citizens ages 1 - 42.”

Gedde even had the pleasure of delivering the letters with her two daughters, Reagan Goldie and Kennedy Trana. The group delivered the letters to staff, who were then able to share the letters with residents inside.

Kennedy Trana created this drawing for area residents that have limited public interaction during the pandemic.
Submitted by Tabitha Gedde
Kennedy Trana created this drawing for area residents that have limited public interaction during the pandemic. Submitted by Tabitha Gedde

This is just one of many examples of people reaching out to try to help their neighbors smile during the coronavirus pandemic. Others have volunteered to watch children for those that have to work. Some donated technology for families to help their children learn from home. Still more are sharing ideas about how to keep kids busy and life organized.

Many of these connections have been organized thanks to people like Wadena City Council member Wade Miller, who created a couple Facebook pages for the Wadena area to focus their efforts of helping each other.

Miller first setup the “Wadena - Yes, We’re OPEN Group.” This page is for Wadena businesses to post changes in services and open hours during the COVID-19 closures. On Tuesday, the page had 619 members. It's been a help for businesses to continuously update changes to the community.

Miller next started the “Wadena Area Neighbors Helping Neighbors” page. This page allows interaction between those who are in need and those that have plenty. It also looks at ways to assist those that can’t leave their home or are choosing not to in order to avoid possible virus spreading. By Tuesday, it had 779 members.

“Right away we had the laptop situation,” Miller said. He was referencing a local resident who had two extra laptops that students in the community might be able to use. Someone mentioned they could use one, but they later realized their child would not need one. Instead of taking it anyway, they let another family put the laptop to use.

“It says something for the character of the people here, they are not taking what they don’t need,” Miller said. He added that there has not been a lot of requests for needs as he believes people are taking care of their neighbors.

As people began joining and expanding on the purpose of the page, Miller noted another page was a good landing spot for posts related to daily activities, “Wadena Area Family Fun Ideas ((Social Distancing Style)).” This page, created by Dani Sworski on Sunday, has an abundance of ideas for families to keep their kiddos busy, entertained and even create projects that help others have a brighter day. One such post included a family setting up “bear hunts” by placing a bear in the window for other families to come find. The page had 226 members on Tuesday.

No doubt the options and ideas will continue to grow day by day as residents look at new ways to help each other out while respecting social distancing throughout the community and abroad.

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