Usually, around this time, we’re thinking winter. We’re thinking holidays.
But in this bizarre, frightening year, we’re also considering coronavirus and its limitations.
We may not be going to stores.
Sure, summer was fabulous for a lot of store owners. Business boomed and sales tax receipts have eased municipal budgets. But now we’re coming into winter. Our shops survive the cold, tourist-less season on what they earn now, too.
Before COVID-19, you could plan beautiful meals with the whole family or take your loved ones out to a local restaurant. You could wander through shop after shop, looking for the perfect gift.
Shopping is different now, but it’s broadly still the same. You’re looking for the perfect gift: You can start by writing down your favorite local businesses. Where did you shop in the past? Check to see if they have an online store; maybe you can wander virtually.
If they don’t have one, give them a call and see what their protocol is right now. Maybe you can schedule an appointment. Maybe you can phone-shop.
But talk to them. Reach out. Don’t just go to the big, impersonal online store. This is a tough time for businesses, too, and they’ll appreciate the contact and the opportunity to work with you.
Wondering where to start and not getting anywhere with asking Google “find toys near me”? Here are some ideas to get you shopping.
In Sullivan County, NY, start at www.bit.ly/sullivancountyshopping.
In Delaware County, NY, go to www.bit.ly/delawarecountyshopping.
Don’t know what to give but want to support a business? Gift cards are the way to go.
Miss trips to the movies? A restaurant meal not possible right now? Buy a gift card for the business you love. It supports them and promises that better days lie ahead.
Now, more specifically. Are you looking for…
Check with your local clothing shop. For example, Callicoon boutique Pip-Squeak Chapeau has been making masks throughout the pandemic. Visit their store or check their site, www.pip-squeakchapeau.com.
Because it’s still the holidays.
You can buy amazing toys locally. Board games are old-fashioned fun for a family that’s scrambling for something else to entertain kids when activities are closed. Puzzles are a great gift for the bored or for seniors who want to do something different and are stuck inside.
Check the aforementioned lists for local toy stores and give them a call; you don’t need to go big-box on this one.
And don’t forget vintage toys. Yard sales, antique stores, small roadside shops. You never know what you’ll find.
Presents from a pharmacy? Well, this year is this year. If someone needs equipment or just a first-aid kit restocked, your pharmacy can help.
You may have to give the order at the door, but they offer more than just meds. Find hand sanitizer, gloves, eye protection and face shields, pulse oximeters, thermometers, and first aid kits. Make up a box for someone you love and let them know you’re thinking about their health, too.
Does your giftee have a favorite local band? Check their site and buy some music.
“Some musicians have online tip-type accounts like paypal.me or patreon, some sell their CDs online,” said Ramona Jan, from the band JANTURAN. “Locally speaking, however, venues—Rafter’s Tavern for example—are beginning to open indoors.” Ask about gift certificates, she suggested. “This way, people can support the local musicians as well as the venue.”
Are you looking for the latest bestseller or a vintage find? Stores like Narrowsburg’s One Grand Books (www.onegrandbooks.com) sells new books, and our area has many used bookstores, too: Read it Again in Monticello, Monique’s Books Boutique in White Sulphur Springs and Past Perfect in White Lake. While you’re at it, check thrift shops, yard sales, and more! You never know what you’ll find.
Does your loved one have a favorite local artist? Give a present and support the arts, too. Check the artist’s site. No website? Ask their county’s arts association for help. Or you can support the mission of the association in the name of your giftee: our arts organizations give us a little extra beauty.
In Sullivan County, there is the Hurleyville Arts Centre (www.hurleyvilleartscentre.org), The Narrowsburg Union (www.narrowsburgunion.com), the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (www.delawarevalleyartsalliance.org) and the Catskill Art Society (www.catskillartsociety.org).
In Pike County, there’s the Artists’ Market Community Center in Shohola (@artistsmarket114 on Facebook) and The Pocono Arts Council (www.poconoarts.org).
It’s the gift of peace and tranquility, drug-free.
Reflexologist Caroline Verdi, for one, sells hand sanitizer made with 190-proof alcohol and her own blend of essential oils. “When I chose the oils, I chose three that are uplifting and anti-anxiety,” she said. “You’re not merely protecting yourself from germs, you’re lifting your mood.”
Caroline works at the Beach Lake Wellness Center (@beachlakewellnesscenter) but you can also find her @reflexologybyTSUBO on Facebook. There are other centers too, like Callicoon’s River Family Wellness (www.riverfamilywellness.com) and The Sanctuary (www.thesanctuaryheal.com), and Body, Mind & Spirit Wellness in Mongaup Valley (845/583-6151).
Charity as a gift isn’t just making a donation in the name of someone else; it’s also helping our nonprofits through a tough time. And for our soup kitchens and shelters, the need is increasing while the funding is sometimes scattershot.
This matters so much right now. If you have surplus to give, take a look at these links that will take you to lists of organizations doing a lot of good in the area: Pike County (www.bit.ly/pikenonprofit), Wayne County (www.bit.ly/waynenonprofit), Sullivan County (www.bit.ly/sullivannonprofit) and Delaware County (www.bit.ly/delawarenonprofit).
We need them more than ever.
Usually the funds they raise support organizations helping people in need. They’re worth checking out regularly; you never know what you’ll find! Some of them also run soup kitchens or food pantries.
Holidays are all about joy, but remember this: there is always, always someone who is worse off. Maybe that person is a family member who needs help. Maybe it’s a stranger.
Sometimes you’re the person who needs help.
If you’re having a tough time with the world right now, talk to someone. Please.
Help is out there, and while it’s starting to open up to in-person counseling, it might be easier to find phone or video therapy.
You can Google “therapists near me” if you have your location enabled online. You can ask your doctor, too.
In many ways, the pandemic has worsened the opioid crisis. In NY and PA, help is out there.
Starting the recovery process, for yourself or a loved one, is giving people a future. It doesn’t get better than that.
In NY, start with the opioid hotline, H.O.P.E. for Sullivan County, at 866/832-5575.
In PA, contact the Wayne County Drug & Alcohol Commission at 570/253-6022.
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