In times like these, it is important to share the anecdotal stories that come from the generosity of individuals and businesses alike. It's also good to share a laugh every now and then! We hope you enjoy the stories that make up #SilverLiningsBoone. If you have suggestions for this blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update from 5/14
The High Country has more than stepped up to the plate when it comes to addressing local food insecurities during COVID, offering innovative strategies and creative approaches. This week, two of our widely utilized nonprofits, launched new programs to further mobilize their resources and reach.
The Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) and various food hubs across the State are piloting a project that will provide a box of locally grown produce from small, sustainable farms at no cost to restaurant and hospitality workers in the High Country. The Farms Serving Hospitality and Restaurant Employees (FarmSHARE) program will run for 8-weeks, serving 89 out of work employees (and their families). The FarmSHARE program is targeting restaurant and hospitality employees who have continued to be dedicated to sourcing local food - a way the community can support their neighbors in need and expand the impact of local food. BRWIA is accepting tax deductible donations to support this program and many more here.
The Hunger and Health Coalition has introduced an exciting program for gardeners to give back to the community with the "Plant a Row for the Hungry" initiative. The program allows local gardeners, experienced farmers, and first time planters to give back to our neighbors in need by the simple act of planting an extra row of fruits or vegetables, like beans, potatoes, or greens. After harvesting, the fresh produce will be donated to the Hunger and Health Coalition by drop off or volunteer pick-up. Fresh healthy produce is vital for our families in need, especially during this time where accesses resources is more difficult than ever. The "Plant a Row for the Hungry" initiative positively and directly impacts our community, one seed at a time! For more information, or to sign up to plant a row - hungerandhealthcoalition.com/plantarow.
Update from 5/11
Kindness and togetherness seem to be ongoing themes in the High Country, experiencing no deceleration in this COVID-19 marathon. Tweetsie Railroad has publically announced that the 2020 Golden Rail Season Passes will be extended through 2021, at the preseason discounted price. Local Lion has shared their drive-thru with other local makers and growers, allowing them to set up an outdoor table display for customers after their get their coffee. Participants of COBO Sushi Bar and Revfive5 Fitness's "Row to Where You Miss" campaign logged 1,600 miles of distance in less than 4 weeks, encouraging not only health and wellness but community connectivity also! The food distribution efforts of Ransom Pub have gained some State attention, with this article featured in the Winston Salem Journal this past week
Early this morning, "Beloved Boone Business's" were greeted with this anonymous note (pictured right), offering a breath of encouragement and hope in these challenging times. This messaging in clear - the support in our High Country has no limits!
Update from 4/30
Blue Ridge Energy has been supplying energy to the High Country for decades, and now they are doing the same for frontline healthcare workers. Recently, the Blue Ridge Energy staff delivered a supply of local baked goods and treats to hospitals in the districts they serve. They brought doughnuts from Local Lion and cupcakes from Sassy Cat Bakery for the staff at Watauga Medical Center in Boone and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville to show appreciation for their hard work on the frontlines. Watauga County District Manager Heidi Ragan said the "local purchases accomplished the goal of delivering a sweet treat for each hospital employee".
Update from 4/29
The Women's Fund of the Blue Ridge, a local collective giving organization striving for positive influence on women and girls of the High Country, has announced a $3,500 grant matching effort. The funds raised will go to support the 11 local food banks in the area, all of which are operating in overdrive due to COVID-19. WFBR has committed to match a community goal of $3,500 over the next two weeks, resulting in $7,000+ distributed to the local food distribution centers. Funds raised will support Ashe Really Cares, Ashe County Sharing Center, Jefferson United Methodist Food Pantry, Reaching Avery Ministries, Feeding Avery Families, Volunteer Avery, Blowing Rock CARES, Casting Bread, Greenway Baptist Food Pantry, Hunger & Health Coalition and Hospitality House. For details on how to contribute, visit the WFBR website: http://www.womensfundoftheblueridge.org/
Cultivating community has proven itself difficult during social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Our local fitness centers continue to creatively engage their members with virtual offerings and campaigns. Revfive5 Fitness and COBO Sushi Bar and Bistro have teamed up for the "Row To Where You Miss" campaign to increase community connectivity and encourage health and wellness during these stressful times. Participants are encouraged to think about the people or places they miss during the stay at home orders, calculate the mileage to this place, then with the help of the Revfive 5 Fitness staff, complete the distance in meters rowed. Participants have clocked well over 800,000 meters and the campaign been extended through the remainder of the stay at home order. Another innovative way for the community to feel connected during times of isolation!
The Town of Boone Public Works Department is recognizing our Watauga High School Senior Spring Athletes by hanging over 50 banners down King Street. Each banner includes the students' individual sports photo and name. The surprise gesture allows for the seniors, and their families, to see the banners while the high school campus is closed and for the community to congratulate and celebrate their efforts!
Update from 4/22
By now you have probably visited the Facebook Group Cookvid-19. Mountaintop Meals producer Bobby Mason interviews the App State professors that founded the site, Jack Kwong and Peter Fawson. They discussed the inspiration for the site along with what the future may hold for the recipes. Catch that interview by clicking here.
Community outreach has always been a natural byproduct of Stick Boy Bread Company. Our community's monetary donations allowed Stick Boy to donate 653 loaves of bread this week to Hospitality House, Blowing Rock Cares, Care.box/Ransom, Casting Bread/Faith Bridge, First Presbyterian, F.A.R.M. Cafe, and Hunger & Health Coalition. Another example of how our community has united and rallied around COVID-19 induced food insecurities in the High Country.
Update from 4/16
South's Speciality Clothiers has been the High Country's one-stop shop for bridal, formal-wear, and casual clothing for over 30 years. Although they have been forced to shut their doors to the general public during COVID-19, South's is continuing to find ways to give back to the community, specifically our medical heroes battling on the front lines on behalf of us all. South's has announced that they are requesting nominations for those dedicated professionals who continue to take on the most risk and exposure for the sake of providing medical care. South's Speciality Clothiers will choose winners from those nominated and giveaway South's gift cards to thank them for their service. This act of kindness provides support and encouragement to our healthcare and medical workers who have remained in the trenches through the pandemic.
You may submit nominations by email to LouEllaSouth@gmail.com or by mail to South's Clothiers, The Boone Mall, 1180 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, NC 28607.
The Watauga Humane Society serves as one of our community supported nonprofits that has taken a large fundraising hit due to the social distancing orders and the pandemic repercussions. Pet supplies and food, along with monetary funds and volunteers, remain high on the list of current needs for the Watauga Humane Society, and one of our local pet shops was able to help answer the call to help.
The Pet Place, a locally owned, holistic pet shop in the High Country, teamed up with Southeast Pet this week to donate and deliver 1,500 pounds of pet food to the shelter. The donation was able to make a positive, immediate, impact on the Watauga Humane Society's shelter animals. Click here if you are interested in donating to the WHS COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Update from April 11th
Two area non-profits teamed up for a successful fundraising event Friday night. Appalachian Mountain Brewery's We Can So You Can Foundation launched its High Country Happy Hour, a weekly live stream concert series hosted on the AMB Facebook page. Andrew Massey and the Midnight Americans performed from the stage inside the brewery to an on-line audience over 8,000 viewers. The event raised over $2,800, with 100% of the proceeds directed to the Hunger & Health Coalition and their COVID-19 response efforts. The weekly concert series is set to feature the Harris Brothers next Friday.
The We Can So You Can Foundation also has teamed with Beech Mountain Resort to host the #KeepBooneHealthy Virtual Run/Walk/Move, Saturday, April 25th. Participants can register for the race here, and donations of any amount will be used to support your selected organization, which include Watauga County Schools, Hunger and Health Coalition, Hospitality House, F.A.R.M. Cafe, Quiet Givers, Mountaineer Emergency Fund, Our Community Listens and Responds!, Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation, or Watauga County Habitat for Humanity. Participants run, walk, bike or just move indoors or right outside their home, choosing their pace, activity, and distance.
Update from April 10th
Boone Drugs, Inc has been serving High Country customers through their pharmacies, retail operations, and lunch counters for 100-years. In the wake of COVID-19, the "Biggest Little Chain Around," expanded its capacity for curbside service and deliveries to provide an extra layer of safety for patients in need of medications. Earlier today, Boone Drug added a few extra stops to their route, delivering hand sanitizer to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Boone Fire Department, Watauga Medics, and the Watauga County Sheriff's Office. "It's a very small way we can give back to our community. A huge thank you to Go Postal in Boone for partnering with us and making the labels for our bottles. We appreciate you and all the other essential workers in our community."
Food Distribution Update: The effort to feed residents of Watauga County during these challenging times has been no small undertaking. Friday, Watauga County Schools provided 20,000 shelf-stable meals to local school-aged children, which will cover eight meals as the system begins its Spring Break. Since beginning their meal program on March 17th, WCS has distributed 82,252 meals at their school distribution sites.
F.A.R.M Cafe has provided hot meals and welcome conversation for anyone in need, regardless of means since 2012. For the month of March, F.A.R.M. Cafe provided 3,100 servings of fresh produce and ready-to-eat meals. After temporarily shutting the cafe doors to the public on April 1st, the staff has still managed to distribute 2,883 meals through work with partner agencies. F.A.R.M. Cafe remains committed to serving those that are food insecure during this difficult time. In addition, F.A.R.M. Cafe and F.A.R.M. Full Circle will continue offering donate-what-you-can meals through the High Country Food Hub’s Online Market.
Update from April 9th
Our community has wrapped its arms (figuratively, of course) around the essential workers who tirelessly and selflessly serve our community during crisis. We have written letters, chalked up sidewalks with words of encouragement, and provided meals to these front line heroes, to keep spirits high and let it be known that their hard work is seen and appreciated.
Spangler Restoration of Boone contributed to the efforts by means of a company vehicle parade down King Street for the Boone Fire Department and the Watauga County Sheriffs Department, equipped with signs of encouragement, lots of honking, and waving. These small acts of appreciation resonate powerfully with the essential employees in the COVID-19 trenches.
Update from April 8th
In challenging times like this, our elected officials are always on the lookout for ways to help their constituents.
Over the weekend, NC Senator Deanna Ballard noticed a press release from Senator Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) and the North Carolina Association of ABC Board had not received a lot of state-wide attention due to the volume of COVID-19 health-related information in the news cycle.
That release touted a plan to allow local ABC boards to buy back unopened alcohol from bars and restaurants, helping those business owners to raise cash flow at a time when their operations have been deeply impacted by the changes to social movement stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.
Senator Ballard quickly worked Saturday to get this information back to her district, coordinating with Chambers of Commerce and local government officials within her five counties to make sure they were aware of this unique opportunity to help bar and restaurant owners.
The Boone ABC Board quickly acted to finalize procedures to provide an opportunity to purchase the unopened alcohol. Bar and restaurant owners that purchased product after January 1, 2020, can sell those bottles back to the Boone ABC store, less the mixed beverage tax. The bottles must be clean, contain the original labeling, and a sales receipt must be provided.
“This is going to be like giving them a loan to get them through some tough times even if it’s just a few dollars. They’re probably going to turn around and buy that liquor right back when they get back open again,” Boone ABC Board Member Charlie Wallin said in an interview with High Country Press.
The buy-back window ends on April 30th.
To read more details on the story from Nathan Ham of the High Country Press, click here.
Update from April 7th
Blue Ridge Energy has created the "In This Together" fund, to connect community members and provide opportunities for energy crisis assistance. Being a not-for-profit electric cooperative, Blue Ridge Energy provides capital credits for its members. Members have the opportunity to donate a portion (or the entire amount) to the "In This Together" fund to potentially ease the financial burden for those experiencing crisis. Blue Ridge Energy states that "every penny goes directly to help local households in need" and that they have "expanded funding amounts to unprecedented levels while making it easier to receive support. To contribute your membership capital credit, visit www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com/Together or call them at 1-800-451-5474.
Coyote Kitchen of Boone takes ingenuity to new levels with the opening of the "Coyote Kitchen Cantina". Owners Ben and Jaime Whitehead were determined to use the resources they already had - an empty dining room, products on the shelves, and a staff ready and willing to work - to meet a need for the community. The "Coyote Kitchen Cantina" offers access to basic pantry items like eggs, milk, butter, bread, and toilet paper, etc., while abiding by the current social distancing recommendations. The Cantina will also offer Coyote Kitchen fridge packs - their most popular boats and bowls in pre-made microwave-safe containers. Customers can shop in-store or call in orders for curbside pickup 7 days/week between 12:00 and 8:00 pm. In reference to their creativity, Jaime says that "it has been a stressful and scary time for us as business owners and we've done our best to stay informed and respond to the changes in the most positive and proactive way we can." Click here for more information on the Coyote Kitchen Cantina.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery and the We Can So You Can nonprofit are teaming to host a weekly live stream concert series with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the Hunger and Health Coalition. The in-home concert series will air every Friday night, for the next 4 weeks, from 8-10 pm from the AMB Facebook page. The concert series serves 3 purposes: to bring our community together through the power of music, continue to pay our local musicians who rely on this income, and most importantly provide a fundraising platform for our local nonprofit Hunger and Health Coalition. Click here for the musician schedule and updates.
Update from April 6th
Before opening Clean Eatz, Ben Harmon (Owner of Clean Eatz in Boone and Winston Salem), worked as an ER technician at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. It was during this stint, that he came to understand the value good nutrition played in surviving those 12-hour hospital shifts. Recognizing the hard work of the Watauga Medical Center staff, along with the high-stress work environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ben wanted to "pay it forward". Clean Eatz donated 30 prepackaged meals to the Watauga Medical Center emergency room staff in an effort to say "thank you" for their unfailing dedication to the community. Clean Eatz has since teamed up with Vannoy Properties to fund 100 meals to be delivered to Ashe Memorial Hospital. "Our goal is to get meals into as many hands as we can during this time" quoted Ben.
Stick Boy Bread Company has expanded its community outreach, now pledging to give away 400 loaves of bread each week to our community members in need. Stick Boy, in partnership with our local nonprofits, is helping to address food insecurities in the High Country, one loaf at a time.
If you're interested in helping expand Stick Boy's reach for this project in the community, click on this link (once you are in the store, scroll down to the bottom to find the donation item). *Only donations directly to non-profit organizations are tax-deductible.
Abby Willis, Marketing Manager for Stick Boy adds, "This community has been supporting us for nearly 20 years, and we're committed to doing our part in keeping Boone safe and well-fed."
In times of crisis, we’ve seen numerous stories of role reversal, where the relationship between the service provider and the customer gets changed around to help fill a need. Last week, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System announced a need for hand sanitizer for their staff to help mitigate risk as they fight the effects of COVID-19.
Promo Saavy4U, Inc was one of the many High Country businesses that acted quickly to come to the aid of the medical community. Mary Osborne worked through her list of customers who had just purchased promotional-sized hand sanitizers and explained the community need. Dr. Amanda Cutchens, Associate Director of Communications & Conferences for Appalachian State’s University Housing returned 2,000 individual bottles of hand sanitizer, which Osborne delivered Friday afternoon to the staff at Watauga Medical Center.
“I am not the only business that found a way to support this effort,” Osborne said. “With the help of those contacts, we were able to play a part in helping the need of the hospital to find hand sanitizer. I had a difficult day Thursday, as many of us have, and I was beginning to feel desperate. I guess you could say my prayers were answered in a way I was not expecting. Being able to donate those bottles made me feel so good that I realized it is going to be ok. Regardless of whether my business survives or not, I know I have someone that hears my prayers.”
Update from April 5th
The Mast General Store wants to ensure the freshness of its food and candy when it's out for people to purchase. "When we realized that our only option to keep our guests and employees safe was to close our doors, we also thought about the food and candy that would be just sitting there," said Lisa Cooper, president of Mast General Store.
To raise the spirits of children eating their lunches at home, bags of candy will be included with one of their pickups. "Before our staff at the candy packaging center left for home, they put together 1,600 bags of treats for children to enjoy at home. It's not like eating with your friends in the cafeteria, but we hope it brings a smile," continued Lisa. "In these times, we all have to be committed to doing what we can with what we have for our communities."
Appalachian State University may be teaching class digitally these days, but many services on campus remain open to students. The Office of Sustainability operates a year-around food resource hub and free store for students and staff, and over the last few weeks, they have worked to answer the increasing needs of those in need under less than ideal circumstances.
After getting contacted by some students off-campus in need of supplies, Office Manager Alice Gryder found a way to make a house call. Check out her story on YouTube by clicking this link.
A few articles about Boone businesses and individuals have made the local news. Check out these stories below:
Local bar manager raises $5K and counting to help locals with bills, food, meds - Watauga Democrat (4/2)
High Country Helpers: Farmers getting support and COVID-19 test kits being made in Boone - Winston-Salem Journal (4/5)
Update from April 3rd
Two Appalachian State University offices tasked with outreach are working to keep people socially and mentally engaged during these unique times.
The Office of Sustainability is helping celebrate the 50th-Anniversary of Earth Day by posting daily tips and challenges that families can work on at home. Each day of the week is themed around specific tasks that focus on topics like physical and mental wellness, supporting community, and other key points that promote engagement in activities that can be enjoyed during the Stay-At-Home period.
The Office of Alumni Affairs is featuring short stories about alumni working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stories shared thus far include:
|•||Gigi Miller '85, an avid sewer, has been making medical gowns and masks for local medical providers in her community.|
|•||"It is hard for students to focus on virtual learning when they're not sure where their next meal is going to come from." says Jennifer Livingston '00, who has organized and delivered meals to school-age children since schools have closed.|
|•||Hunter Hill '17, a high school art teacher in Suzhou, China, continues to teach her students through online engagement through the pandemic.|
To view more stories, and to share additional examples, please visit Appalachian State University Alumni Association Facebook page and follow social media tag (@AppAlumni).
Update from April 2nd
Boone-based Tsuga is the latest local manufacturer to enter the COVID-19 response supply chain. The company develops and produces multifaceted outdoor products that require custom cutting and machine sewing. They specialize in military contract work and R&D for a variety of clients.
Tsuga shifted eight of its operators to begin the production of medical masks that can be used both healthcare professionals and the general public. A member of the Carolina Textile District, Tsuga is ramping up to a production goal of 6,000 ready-to-wear masks per week. Using a 36-foot long Eastman Static Cutter, they will soon custom cut and produce over 100,000 mask kits per week that will be assembled by various manufacturers throughout the Southeast US.
The masks provide extra protection over N95 masks, which will help extend the individual use of these essential products by healthcare workers. They are made of a material that filters out enough toxins that the masks can be used by the general public to aid against the spread of the virus.
Tsuga is another example of a Watauga County business that quickly mobilized to bring their expertise and skills into the COVID-9 fight.
Update from April 1st
"Find Your Happy Place" was found scribbled on one of our local sidewalks by an unknown artist, prior to the stay-at-home order. This serves as such a positive reminder for us all during under the current circumstances.
Watauga County Schools has distributed thousands of meals to children in the High Country and the community continues to rally in support of their efforts. The WCS staff, along with the staff of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, and community volunteers, have proactively been in search of bags to use for food distribution in the coming weeks, especially with spring break approaching. The community unites once again, with Ronnie Mark, the General Manager of the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock, providing WCS with 1,000 bags, donated from Rack Room Shoes and American Eagle.
Update from March 30th
To aide in the influx of Coronavirus patients in New York City, Samaritan's Purse has established its second emergency field hospital. The convoy of trucks headed North on Saturday, March 28th, with a full medical team, tents, and medical supplies, to treat patients.
Edward Jones of Boone has been supporting the community in creative ways during the COVID-19 crisis. Jason Sirmon, Financial Advisor, has teamed up with Local Lion to deliver coffee to the staff who are handling food distribution at Watauga County High School. Jason has also provided a tent to shelter from the elements to the staff at Hardin Park Elementary School as they work the drive-thru food distribution site.
Update from March 27th
Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S, a food pantry run by Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, has seen a significant increase in demand as a result of COVID-19. With an increase in food demand, comes an increase in the need of distribution boxes. The High Country united, once again, in a large scale box collection effort to greatly support Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church and their ability to feed our families during this time. Hundreds of boxes were donated from Watauga Medical Center, Mast General Store, Appalachian State University, BB&T (now Truist), and Tractor Supply of Boone. Habitat for Humanity, along with several Boone Area Chamber of Commerce volunteers, coordinated and executed the pick up and delivery of these boxes. This true community effort serves as another story of compassion in the High Country during trying time.
Update from March 26th
Following a successful ski season, Beech Mountain Resort opted to donate their April ad buy through High Country Radio to the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. This act of kindness was to ensure that the “Keep Boone Healthy” message continued to be heard in the High Country and people were directed to the Local Response page for the most up to date news and resource links. Even though Beech Mountain was forced to close their doors to ski traffic a week early, they continue to make a positive impact on this community.
Pay it Forward: Patrons of Lost Province Brewing Company are showing up and showing out in light of the devestating hit on the service industry. Lost Province has used social media to publically share stories of customers buying extra giftcards (and donating them back to the Brewery) and customers tipping 100% and more on take-out orders. To pay it forward, Lost Province Brewing Company has announced that they plan provide dinner for the Hospitality House next week, and will be donating the extra giftcards that were purchased by customers to the healthcare workers and the staff of the health department who have been working around the clock. They also plan to offer the employee discount to all healthcare workers, first responders, and law enforcement personnel.
Update from March 25th
Blue Ridge Energy took the phrase "helping your neighbor" to new heights on Monday, March 23rd, when they donated hundreds of N95 medical masks to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. BREMCO's donation was done in an effort to help ARHS protect its caregivers against any harmful airborne particles, and was welcomed considering the potential shortage of supplies. "Having enough personal protective equipment to ensure that our dedicated caregivers are appropriately safeguarded is one of our highest priorities, and we can't thank Blue Ridge Energy and our community partners enough for their generous contribution to that cause," said Chuck Mantooth, ARHS President and CEO.
Food Distribution Continues to Expand: Watauga County Schools served 3,478 meals Wednesday at 7 sites and 10 busses/vans across the county. Additional routes are being added to meet the need. A full list of distribution sites as of (3/25) can be found at this link. The High Country Food Hub reported another record week in terms of customer growth. The online farmer's market increased its customer total over the previous week by 54%. Over the last two weeks, their customer total has increased by a remarkable 277%! The winner here -- local farmers who had seen their market share decrease due to volume changes in food orders from area restaurants. The Food Hub continues to add additional products with more farmers seeking to provide goods and seasonal changes in availability.
Update from March 23rd
Watauga Opportunities, Inc has over 25 years of experience specializing in manufacturing disposable health care products. They package, seal, thermoform, and assemble a wide variety of medical products (basins, trays, cell scrapers, collection tubes, and kit packs).
Watauga Opportunities is now assembling and packaging the sample collection vials used in the COVID -19 test kits, the one with red cap you see often on the news when showing testing sites. The company received an order last Friday (3/20) to assemble and package 750,000 units for national distribution. Watauga Opportunities’ work plays a vital role in supporting the testing and collection efforts of diagnostic and research facilities such as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and LabCorp.
With a diverse array of state-of-the-art mechanical and electronic equipment and over 22,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, Watauga Opportunities has lent its name and reputation to keeping the COVID-19 test kit supply chain moving to facilities across the nation.
In times like these, lending resources and expertise can be beneficial as businesses and individuals adapt to new ways of operating. Appalachian State University's Campus Services department, among many other things, is responsible for maintaining campus dining operations. When asked for assistance, the App State staff donated more than 3,000 pieces of to-go materials to Watauga County Schools for their use in meal distribution to area school children. The haul included cups, lids, containers, bowls, and other materials.
The High Country Food Hub has seen sizable growth to its customer base over the last week, as community members reach out for more locally sourced products. The Campus Services team has shared ideas to the High Country Food Hub staff about vendors needed to meet their new demands. They have even lent some shelving to the organization so they can increase their storage and product delivery capacity.
The team at Ray's Weather has graciously offered free banner advertising to any Watauga County restaurant/bar to promote hours of operation, carryout/curbside procedures, or delivery options. This generous support for our local dining establishments is greatly appreciated by our businesses and their patrons.
Updates from March 20th
To mitigate the childcare concerns for the ARHS employees, the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center has established a children's recreation program. The program involves a combination of educational and physical activity, while also following strict sanitation protocols to ensure the health and safety of all involved. On their agenda this week was to create "get well soon" cards for the current hospital patients, in the midst of visitor restrictions, surely to elicit smiles. Strong connections despite social distancing.
Happy First Day of Spring! Today's encouragement from Josiah Davis, of the Local Lion in Boone.
Updates from March 19th
The teachers and staff of Watauga County Schools have been hard at work transitioning students into a digital work environment. By the end of the week they will have distributed 2,000 laptops to students in grades 3-7. Along with 1,800 laptops issued to our students in grades 8-12, WCS has issued over 3,800 student devices in order to keep students connected to their teachers and educational resources.
In addition, Watauga County Schools began meal distribution to children in the community on Tuesday (3/17) at four school sites and one church site. The first day they provided 808 meals and that increased to 1,488 on day two. Wednesday (3/18) WCS began meal distribution via school buses and that will grow as more needs are identified. Starting this Monday (3/23), they will add two new meal sites: Valle Crucis and Watauga High School. Each child receives two meals at time. The meals are free and available to ALL children in the county regardless of income, location, or school enrollment. The more meals served, the more federal reimbursement Watauga County Schools will receive to continue the program.
Wine to Water, Ransom Pub, and Vincent Properties have teamed up to serve the servers! They have organized a food relief program available for our local families in the service industry, who are undoubtedly affected by the restaurant closings. These "CARE.BOXES" are filled with nutritious, balanced, and wholesome meals, including fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins and made available by a food voucher.
Updates from March 18th
At Local Lion in Boone, owner Josiah Davis employs two staff members named Dakota. While Local Lion may lead the nation in number of Dakotas per location, it does present a challenge in communicating with one or both at the same time. The solution -- nicknames. The Dakotas are referred to as North and South. Problem solved in a clever way.
Grandfather Vineyard has unlocked a new take on wine pairing. Check this Facebook post for pairing your favorite wine with your favorite board game. An excerpt from their post features 2018 Pinot Gris and Scrabble : Talk about a stimulating game. You'll need all the brainpower you have for this game so don't try to overcomplicate the wine. Pinot Gris is the every day (almost dangerously easy) wine for all. Side note: Too much wine might get the creative juices flowing and new words might arise from this combination.
The High Country Food Hub was established in 2016 and featured 500+ locally made products from 50+ local farmers and food entrepreneurs. The goal is to provide local farmers with marketing and sales support so their income increases and they can focus on the important work of growing and producing high-quality food.
Product lists are published online each Thursday and customers browse the local selections of food and products, making their selections by Monday night. Items are boxed and ready for pickup each Wednesday afternoon.
In the wake of recent events, the Food Hub has seen exponential growth. Dave Walker, Operations Director of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture shared the following update on Wednesday, March 18th:
"This week was significant — 231 customers. Our previous customer high had been 123 the week EarthFare closed. Last week, there were 98 customers. Sales this week were 3x last week and nearly double our largest sales week (the week before Christmas 2019). This impacted 50+ community-scale farmers and food producers at a time when they are planning for summer-growing season investments and are potentially facing other market channel challenges (restaurant, farmers’ market closings).
We more than doubled the number of customers that typically use Double Up Food Bucks at the Food Hub. This is important now more than ever — folks can double their SNAP/EBT purchases through the Food Hub.
We couldn’t have done today and yesterday without our volunteers and producers. They really stepped up. Customers, too, were patient and supportive.
We’re open for business this next week. Local food is essential to a diversified, resilient economy, and we’re going to continue to develop innovative ways to connect our community to healthy, fresh food."
For more information, visit www.highcountryfoodhub.com
On Tuesday (March 17), Boone-based Samaritan's Purse airlifted a 68-bed Emergency Field Hospital to Milan, Italy, to provide care for those sickened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A DC-8 aircraft carried approximately 20 tons of medical equipment, a respiratory care unit developed specifically for this response, and 32 disaster relief personnel, including doctors, nurses, and respiratory specialists, who will stay in-country for at least a month.
“We are always ready to provide critical relief in the face of crisis,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.
View the full release from Samaritan's Purse here.
Check back as we post other stories over the next few days and weeks.