BY ELISA WALLACE COPPEDE
Thanks to COVID-19, we are all living through a time of disproportionate crisis. With the trauma it has left in its wake, it can become easy for one to be irritable and angry at the world. However, rather than focusing on the negative situations, this virus has caused us all, why not do the opposite? Rather than wallow in one’s sorrows, seek the positive out of life. What better way to do so than to celebrate those that live near you, and lend a helping hand during National Good Neighbor Day!
What originally began as an idea from Mrs. Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana, who realized that we all need to recognize the value of good neighbors, Mattson’s idea quickly began to gather attention. By 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced the creation of a national day, aimed at raising awareness that “good neighbors” can help build strong, prosperous communities. Since then, National Good Neighbor Day has been acknowledged by various levels of government and is celebrated every year in the fall. The holiday was originally celebrated on the fourth Sunday in September, but in 2003 it was decided that the day would change to September 28th.
If we look around, especially during turbulent times like these, we can all agree that the community we live in is extremely vital to the welfare of ourselves and our families. It is a true godsend to have a good neighbor, but an even a greater thing to BE that good neighbor. Often, good neighbors can eventually become close family friends. They can watch out for one’s house, lend a helping hand during times of need, and be first to give advice when needed. Good neighbors also provide their friends with a host of different helpful tasks. From collecting our mail when out of town to helping coordinate “meal trains” when a pregnant neighbor goes into labor, these friends help us live our best lives, in the safest and manageable way.
Curious about how to celebrate these amazing people during National Good Neighbor Day? Read on for five easy ways to celebrate our good neighbors, not only on September 28th but all year long!
Good Neighbor Tip #1: Knock, Knock! Pay a visit to an elderly neighbor to “check-in” and make sure all is well. Chances are, they may need help with a few basic tasks. Not to mention that it is always nice to hear their life stories and learn from our older generations. Considering that this demographic has been extremely nervous about heading out of their homes during the pandemic, if we check in on them regularly (while wearing a mask of course), we can also make sure they do not need something from a local store.
Good Neighbor Tip #2: Baking to the Rescue! For many, baking is a way to relieve stress and enjoy a sweet treat afterward. When making cookies for your family, considering baking an extra batch for your local neighbors. Remember that neighbor that gathered your mail while you were gone? They would surely appreciate a sweet bite! Remember that neighbor that walked your dog when you were staying late at work? They would also likely love a treat. You can add a special touch by adding ribbon to the package of cookies, and adding a small note, just thanking them for being such a great friend!
Good Neighbor Tip #3: Get outside! What better way to get out of the house, especially since we are all cooped up inside more now, than taking a nice long walk around the neighborhood? Instead of going solo, consider asking a neighbor to join you! Not only will you motivate each other to get outside and get exercise, but it can also provide you with a new friendship.
Good Neighbor Tip #4: Host a “Neighbor Circle” Since everyone is social distancing these days, rather than host your traditional barbeque, consider hosting a “Neighbor Circle.” Invite 6-8 neighbors to your driveway or outdoor area, where all can form a circle with outdoor chairs. (This is where it will be important to sit at least 6 feet apart.) You can offer them food or drink, OR since we are in a pandemic, they can bring their own and simply enjoy each other’s company.
Good Neighbor Tip #5: Stay connected Since we are limiting our social interaction these days, consider reaching out via text to your neighbors regularly. If you check in on one, and they need an item from the store, considering grabbing it for them when you go. During times like these, we all can appreciate small acts of kindness more than ever!