Nelson County Parks & Recreation is hoping to spread some play to children stuck at home.

According to Claire Richardson, director of Nelson County Parks & Recreation, the department is putting together what it calls “boredom bags,” which contain an assortment of different coloring books, individual crafts, markers, crayons and small toys.

She said the goal is to assemble 200 to 300 bags which the department is set to distribute May 26.

“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 bags through car windows so nobody has to exit their vehicle. Staff also 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 U.S., and thanks to some leftover grant funds, the department was able to secure the necessary materials for their 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 other ideas to engage with the community and keep children active. To that end, the department has also 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 via email.

Petey Vaughan, a recreation technician with the department, also is helping put together boredom bags.

“... [I]ts 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 putting together the boredom bags is one way for him to do that while also connecting with the community.

The drive-thru distribution will be held May 26 from 2 to 6 p.m. at The Nelson Center in Lovingston. Richardson said the bags are free, but they are currently planning to limit one bag per child in order to ensure there is enough to go around.

The department also is primarily focused on helping the children of Nelson County.

Richardson said 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 as well. 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,” Richardson said.

She noted, however, they could only accept new items. Any person interested in donating to the boredom bags is encouraged to call the department and arrange for a time to drop off items. 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.

Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach Cropper at (434) 385-5522.

Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach him at (434) 385-5522.

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