Many holiday traditions took on a different look in 2020. Boisterous holiday dinner tables filled with family members were replaced with video call screens. Face-masked clad shoppers filled bustling stores. And more people than ever stayed home to watch the ball drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Though these traditions may not have looked like the ones we used to know, people did their best to adapt and maintain some normalcy to feel the warmth of the magic of the holidays.
Unfortunately, one place hit hardest by the changing of traditions were nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Usually filled with visiting family members and groups singing Christmas carols throughout the hallways, many facilities implemented strict visitor restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Though protective measures were necessary to keep these residents safe, the planning committee of the 2020 Parade of Lights created a new initiative, the Christmas Cheer Project, to add a little holiday joy for residents.
“It was the committee’s sincere hope to make this year’s Christmas memorable for all, including those struggling from the changes brought on by COVID-19,” said Jerri Whitley, Victory Electric. “We recognize the physical separation and isolation from family and other loved ones have taken a significant toll on residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In the spirit of holiday giving and through the Christmas Cheer Project, we wanted to give our community the opportunity to make a difference and add a little holiday joy to the lives of those cherished residents.”
The community was invited to participate in the Christmas Cheer Project by writing and submitting personal letters, notes or Christmas cards as a touching way to spread holiday cheer, decorating door hangers, or by donating artwork and small Christmas décor items to help brighten the halls and rooms of the care facilities.
Four local elementary schools –– Northwest, Sacred Heart, Ross and Miller –– aided our efforts by collectively donating 600 decorated door hangers and letters.
Originally, the project was meant to be part of the 2020 Parade of Lights. “Even though we were not able to host the parade this year, the committee felt it was important to carry on with the project,” said Coral Lopez, coordinator of Main Street Dodge City. “We wanted to show our appreciation and support for the part of our community who were withdrawn from their families and their holiday traditions.”