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5 ways to give back to the community this holiday season

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As the saying goes: ‘tis better to give than receive.

During the holidays, more people are looking to give back to the community, but it can be hard to find the right opportunity that lets you focus on a cause that’s close to your heart—and that works with your schedule.

Whether you’re looking to donate items, make a financial contribution or roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, we’ve got you covered. Here are just a few ways you can do good this holiday season.

Food Insecurity

Many holidays include big meals, often with those special dishes you only get once a year—Grandma’s stuffing, Uncle Joe’s pies. Yet for many, having a hot meal is a struggle each year. Franklin County residents miss 69 million meals, according to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The Foodbank connects families with needed food via 650 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior housing sites, and connecting people with community services to help them become economically sufficient. Volunteers are always needed to help sort and pack food, donate food or donate funds.

Homelessness

Each year, more than 10,000 people in Franklin County experience homelessness, according to Lutheran Social Services (LSS). The organization provides shelter to those experiencing homelessness through its Faith Mission program. You can volunteer to serve meals, connect clients with resources, provide medical care and assist in the donation center.

The YWCA Family Center provides emergency shelter to families while they find permanent housing. You can volunteer to provide and serve dinner at the center, or babysit for parents while they attend training. You can also donate needed items or make a financial contribution.

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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence a ects women—and men—from all walks of life. According to LSS, one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Lutheran Social Services’ CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence provides shelter and other services to those who have experienced domestic violence. You can volunteer to provide and serve meals in the kitchen or sort donations in the donation center.

Animal Welfare

There’s nothing like the unconditional love of our four-legged friends. Last year, the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center cared for more than 9,200 dogs in its shelter. The organization provides care for impounded animals, and adoption and lost dog services. It also educates the community about safe and responsible dog ownership. You can volunteer to provide care, training, exercise and enrichment for dogs. You can also donate funds or needed items.

Find Your Niche

Not sure what you want to do? Besa connects individuals and organizations with a variety of local charities including food pantries, arts and educational organizations, and animal shelters. To date, individuals and organizations have contributed more than $1.9 million in goods and services and nearly 62,000 volunteer hours to nonprofits through a connection from Besa. Not only is this a service available for volunteers, but also organizations looking to get the word out about adding helping hands to upcoming projects and events.

Similarly, LoveCbus was started by a local ministry after it received a networking database that was built out but unused. The team realized that with a little polishing, the database could connect those who want to show Columbus a little love with volunteer opportunities and connect people in need with local services. Once you complete a profile, you’re connected to volunteer opportunities matched to your interests and schedule.

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Community

Cedar Point, Kings Island are suing to get you back

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It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Columbus Zoo & Aquarium are allowed to re-open but Cedar Point and Kings Island have been snubbed in Gov. Mike DeWine’s most recent announcement that Ohio’s entertainment venues were allowed to re-open.

After being left out of the party, Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and Kings Island sued the director of the Ohio Department of Health Thursday, arguing that Dr. Amy Acton doesn’t have the authority to keep the state’s amusement parks and waterparks shut down and in doing so is violating the park’s rights.

The lawsuit was brought by attorney Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. The county health departments for both parks were also named in the lawsuit.

No word yet from the Ohio Department of Health as to when, or if, either amusement park will be allowed to open in June.

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Community

Updated hours for North Market as first Farmers’ Market of the season opens Saturday

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Get excited Columbus foodies - this Saturday marks the beginning of North Market’s Farmers’ Market season! The Farmers’ Market will tantalize your taste buds every Saturday this summer through October, from 8 a.m. until noon at the North Market outdoor plaza at 59 Spruce Street.

During the coronavirus pandemic, North Market provided customers with fresh pick-up bundles. Now they’ve updated their operating hours to give consumers who want to shop again a chance to pick their own culinary delights.

"The hope is that a gradual reopening will strike a balance between the desire to serve the public and still respect the very real health concerns still shared by merchants, public, and staff," said Rick Harrison Wolfe, North Market's executive director, in a press release Thursday.

The updated hours, which will go into effect this Sat., June 6, are as follows:

  • Monday - Tuesday: closed
  • Wednesday - Friday, Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

All of those in attendance will have to observe the following guidelines as outlined in a press release by North Market:

  • North Market's mask requirement that applies to indoor merchants and guests will also apply to all outdoor vendors and guests.
  • Access to each farmers' market booth will be limited. Markings on ground will indicate this requirement and will show the distance required between people. Only one person/group traveling together may be in each box at a time.
  • Several farms and vendors will offer contact-free shopping and pre-orders. North Market asks that guests pre-order and plan out shopping trips when possible. This helps keep crowds to a minimum and lines moving smoothly.
  • Farms and vendors will provide hand sanitizer for guest use.
  • North Market farms and vendors are committed to helping prevent the spread of illness by washing hands frequently, covering coughs/sneezes, staying home when sick, and avoiding exposure to others who are sick. We ask that all guests follow the same protocols and do not visit North Market or the Farmers' Market if feeling ill.
  • North Market farms and vendors will continue to strictly follow all local public health guidelines, safety protocols, and best practices.

If you’re interested in which merchants will be open on what days, North Market has been dedicated to providing you with that information during the pandemic. You can find the list, which is updated daily, here.

Although there are still limitations on indoor seating, outdoor seating on the porch and the farmers’ market plaza are currently available.

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Weekend Getaway: Ohio State Park lodges reopen

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Cooped up inside of our homes for the past few months, everyone could use a change of scenery. Luckily for those that love the great outdoors of Ohio, the perfect getaway is now possible once again.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced on May 28 that all nine Ohio State Park lodges would be reopened by June 5.

The places where you can escape to are listed below in order of closest proximity to Columbus to furthest:

  • Deer Creek
  • Burr Oak
  • Mohican Lodge
  • Salt Fork Lodge
  • Shawnee 
  • Hueston Woods
  • Maumee Bay
  • Punderson Manor

Director of State Park Lodges Tom Arvan had this to say in the May 28 press release:

“Our staff has been working diligently to ensure that guests return to a safe and sanitized environment following the CDC safety guidelines. Our goal is for our guests to feel comfortable as they enjoy the fun activities and relax in the natural beauty of the lodges and all the state parks have to offer this summer.”

Visit https://www.greatohiolodges.com/ to secure your much-needed wilderness adventure today.

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