LYNCHBURG — Nelson County Parks & Recreation is hoping to enhance playtime for children stuck at home.
According to Claire Richardson, director of Parks & Recreation, the department is putting together what it calls “boredom bags,” which contain an assortment of coloring books, craft projects, markers, crayons and small toys.
She said the goal is to assemble 200 to 300 bags, which the department is set to distribute Tuesday.
“Since we are unable to offer our regular programming at the moment, we thought this was one way we could reach Nelson youth and offer some sort of small distraction and element of fun,” Richardson said in an email.
On the day of the distribution, staff will hand the bags through car windows so nobody has to exit their vehicle. Staff will be wearing gloves and masks, as well as practicing social distancing.
Richardson said the department got the idea to distribute boredom bags after observing similar projects being undertaken by other parks and recreation departments across the country, and thanks to some leftover grant funds, the department was able to secure the necessary materials for its own distribution.
She could not say where the leftover funds came from specifically, only that it was from a company that supports youth.
With the cancellation of spring sports, the department has had to brainstorm new ways to engage with the community and keep children active. To that end, the department also has implemented some virtual activities through its Facebook page, such as nature-based scavenger hunts and bingo.
“The boredom bags are our way of letting families know we are thinking of them, with the message to kids that we are ‘sending a little play your way,’” Richardson said.
Petey Vaughan, a recreation technician with the department, is helping to put the boredom bags together.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to do something while they’re sitting at home,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan said he’s always envisioned helping children, and that putting the boredom bags together is one way for him to do that while also connecting with the community.
The drive-thru distribution will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Nelson Center in Lovingston. Richardson said the bags are free, but they are currently planning to limit one bag per child to ensure there is enough to go around.
Richardson said that in the event the department does not give away all of the bags, it hopes to coordinate with Nelson County Public Schools during its weekly meal distribution, which takes place Wednesdays at Nelson Middle School, to distribute the rest of them.
The department is open to accepting donations for the bags. Depending on how many donated items it receives, Richardson said the department may be able to hold a second distribution.
“We would be happy to do a second round,” she said.
Richardson noted, however, that they can only accept new items. Anyone interested in donating items for the boredom bags is encouraged to call the department and arrange for a drop-off time. She said the department also is accepting monetary donations.
Vaughan and Richardson are tasked with putting together the hundreds of bags on their own, via an assembly line method. Both said they’re up for the challenge, however.