If there is a silver lining to any situation, the residents of Thurston County are going to find it. The current worldwide situation is no exception. With their endless originality, positivity and enthusiasm, there is no shortage of creative ways Thurston County members are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. From charity work to baking blogs and book writing, here are some ways our community members are making quarantine just a little more manageable.

One key to staying sane in the age of COVID-19 is to keep social interactions plentiful, even if it does happen to be socially distanced. Brian Nichols has done exactly that.

Brian and a few other community members have bonded over a love of wakeboarding and water skiing. What started as a fun way to pass the summer evenings (outside, masked, and with all proper safety measures in place) turned into a full-blown weekly activity that has continued relentlessly into the chilly evenings of December. On the coldest of days, one can look out on the Puget Sound to see men clothed head to toe in wetsuits, face covers, and caps still enjoying the water. “Getting outdoors is amazing, but what is even more amazing is getting to safely bond with awesome people,” Brian says. “You get to grow with these people and be vulnerable even when stuck in a pandemic. I would recommend that everyone get away and do something you are passionate about and allow yourself to have fun.”

An example of one of the Christmas signs made by the craft group! According to Kerri Dawson, one of the awesome things about the group is the large amount of people involved. There is someone new each time to get to know. Photo credit: Hailey O’Hara

Kerri Dawson, who is a long-time member of the community, agrees. She has spent her quarantine setting up a socially distanced crafting group with her friends. This also combines a fun passion with social interaction. “It’s that outlet of being social, a fun way where we get to hang out and support each other,” Kerri states. The crafting group has recently spent their time making Halloween and Christmas signs. Kerri believes it is the little things that make lasting memories. “It is all about doing something you love, no matter how trivial it may seem.” In the end, it is about finding something that makes you happy.

John Oakes may not have started his own socially distanced group, but he too is doing what makes him happy in quarantine. He has written the rough draft of his first full-length novel at the age of 18. “I’ve been writing stuff all my life,” he says. “Quarantine was a good opportunity that gave me lots of time to do something and finish it.” John says that the genre of his book is urban fantasy, and centers around a group of friends who live near what the townsfolk refer to as a haunted forest. People go missing and never return. “Of course, I don’t know if I will publish or not, I just know that finishing something this large has allowed me to grow. Writing is a passion of mine and I want to keep doing it. Using this passion has helped me stay sane.”

A picture of one of the ski club members (Justin) tearing it up on the chilly water of the Puget Sound. He is dressed completely in a dry suit and various other warm clothing articles. Anything to stay on the water! Photo credit: Brian Nichols

Samantha Prigg has also explored her passion while in quarantine. She has started a cupcake baking blog. “Once we became quarantined, my big outlet was baking,” she says. “It’s just a nice, serene hobby that lets you focus. I started baking a ton. Baking cupcakes became my favorite. I decided I might as well start a blog.” This pastime is more than just posting pictures of her creations, however. It is a form of journaling and mindfulness. She likes to write down every step she takes while baking; from the little recipe changes to the podcasts and music she listens to while cooking. “Baking is amazing because I get to unwind, but I also get to do something for people,” she adds. “Everyone loves cupcakes!” Sam thinks that the real reason she loves cooking is that it makes people happy.

An example of one of the many types of cupcakes made by Samantha Prigg. Unfortunately for us, Sam does not intend to make a business out of her cupcake making, and does it instead for the pure pleasure. Photo credit: Samantha Prigg

Helping others is exactly how 13-year-old Lucy Teuteberg has spent her time in isolation. Lucy and her mom originally started volunteering at the food bank, but when the Coronavirus made in-person volunteering risky, Lucy began looking for other ways she could safely help the community. In her research, she came across an annual stocking drive. The stocking drive helps provide struggling community members with donated gifts for the holidays. “I originally collected donations to stuff 25 holiday stockings for people,” Teuteberg shares. “Then I started receiving more donations than I imagined. Last time I checked I had 136 stockings, then I stopped counting.”

This picture shows Lucy Tueteberg surrounded by her finished stockings! She says the most heartwarming part about this experience is knowing how appreciative the recipients are going to be, and how every last little thing in the stocking is going to be used. Photo courtesy: The Tuetebergs

The food bank is used to about 400 donated stockings, this year, they estimate there will be over 1,000. All because of Lucy. “My family has taught me to give back whenever I can,” she continues. So, I found a way to help others who needed it this holiday season. I wanted to do something to benefit the community.”

It is individuals like Lucy who prove one is never too young to make a difference. Currently, she is helping out essential workers by setting out snacks on her front doorstep. She is working on another project for next year, where she plans to hand out backpacks and water bottles stuffed with individually wrapped packages for the homeless community. “I encourage everyone to find a way to help people safely, especially now,” Lucy says.

While each of these individuals has dealt with COVID 19 in different ways, the connecting theme is they have all made the best they could out of their situation. All in all, the Thurston County community has proven once again that it is home to a variety of incredible, thoughtful and creative human beings.

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