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Salvation Army planning for a COVID Christmas

MARQUETTE — For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign early across the country in order to “rescue” Christmas.

The organization announced that the funds raised through the organization’s iconic red kettles are at risk this year due to COVID-19 while requests for services are at an all-time high.

Based on the increase in services already provided in response to the pandemic, The Salvation Army indicated it could serve up to two to three times more people nationally this year with Christmas assistance, including putting food on the table, paying bills, providing shelter and helping place gifts under the tree, assuming resources are available.

The Salvation Army said it served 2,408 people in Marquette and Alger counties in 2019 at Christmas, and if it sees the same level of increased requests for service, that would mean 3,732 people need help this holiday season.

At the same time, due to the closing of retail stores, consumers carrying less cash and coins, and a decline in foot traffic, the Salvation Army could see up to a 50% decrease in funds raised nationally through its red kettles — limiting its capability to provide services for vulnerable citizens.

In 2019, $126 million was raised nationally through about 30,000 red kettles. In Marquette County, $91,000 was raised, which could leave a shortfall of $45,500.

“So many people depend on The Salvation Army for hope at Christmas, for toys, food or assistance with some of the basics in life,” said local Salvation Army Capt. Doug Winters in a news release. “We will be looking at creative ways to help with the expected shortfall in income, and our local advisory board is tackling this problem.”

The Salvation Army said the best way to ensure that vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army with a sustaining monthly gift of $25. To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols, with the local advisory board meeting to develop additional creative fundraising activities.

Options include:

≤ donating digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle in the Upper Peninsula;

≤ asking Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount;

≤ Giving any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 91999;

≤ donating physical gifts in bulk; and

≤ adopting additional Angels to give hope and joy to kids and families in need through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

Visit RescueChristmas.org to donate or learn more. If individuals need services or know of someone in need, they can call 906-226-2241.

New COVID campaign starts

The Spread Hope, Not COVID public education campaign calls on all Michiganders to join together to “Spread Hope, Not COVID” by taking actions that will significantly reduce the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands and practicing physical distancing.

The campaign already includes about 50 of Michigan’s leading health care, business, education, community, manufacturing, tourism, senior citizen, labor, faith-based and public safety organizations and is led by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, according to the State Emergency Operations Center.

“This virus has devastated families across the state and had an unprecedented impact on our economy,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “We are not out of the woods yet, and we must all continue to step up and do our part to fight COVID-19. Our ‘Spread Hope, Not COVID’ message is for all Michiganders to do everything in their power to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our families, frontline workers, educators and small businesses.”

The campaign will communicate with residents through broadcast, outdoor, social and digital media, and the news media. The campaign is also sharing information through state and local associations, business organizations, K-12 schools, college and university organizations and institutions, health care provider groups, communities of color, and other stakeholder groups that represent or reach millions of Michigan residents.

The campaign’s messaging is based on a survey of 2,047 Michigan residents ages 18 and older conducted July 8-13. The survey’s goal was to identify and quantify behaviors and attitudes related to wearing masks and other types of facial coverings.

The survey found that 72% of Michigan residents say they always wear a mask in public, with Black Michiganders significantly more likely to wear a mask than all other respondent groups, and women more likely than men to wear a mask.

Additional extensive research is continuing to measure changes in attitudes and behavior. The research continues to identify significant misinformation and confusion about mask-wearing. The Spread Hope, Not COVID campaign includes facts about mask-wearing and details about other simple behaviors.

The Spread Hope, Not COVID campaign is funded through legislation approved by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress.

On the Ground to resume

After event postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19 throughout the spring and summer field seasons, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ On the Ground program is resuming work in the field to improve wildlife habitat on public land.

MUCC said it has been contacted by diverse conservation groups regarding partnerships to plant native trees and wildflowers this fall, and it’s attempting to put wildlife habitat improvement events on the calendar before the end of the field season.

MUCC reported it’s working with conservation partners to host a potential tree planting event near Marquette and a native wildflower planting at the Petersburg State Game Area in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. Should they be held, each of these events would take place in early or mid-October. Updates about these possible events can be found on the OTG webpage at mucc.org/on-the-ground/ or the OTG Facebook page.

Hunter education certificates extended

Eligible hunter education students will be allowed to purchase a Michigan hunting license through June 1 before completing the required field day.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division administers the state’s hunter education program and is providing a temporary solution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Field days, in which students must successfully demonstrate hunter safety skills to a certified instructor, are the required final step in earning a DNR hunter education safety certificate for online and take-home study students. A safety certificate is required to purchase a Michigan hunting license.

To be eligible for a temporary hunter education safety certificate, online students must have started the program on or after Sept. 10, 2019, and complete it by June 1, 2021, or already completed the online program but have yet to complete a field day.

Eligible students will be able to print their temporary certificates from their online Kalkomey student portal. Kalkomey Enterprises, LLC, is the DNR’s online recreation education provider. Students need to present their temporary certificates when purchasing licenses.

Anyone who receives a temporary hunter education safety certificate will be required to complete a field day by June 1 or within a year of completing the course, whichever date comes later, to receive their permanent hunter education safety certificate.

The in-person classes were postponed in March due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns. In May, the DNR announced temporary hunter education safety certificates for eligible students, allowing them to purchase a hunting license though Dec. 31.

According to executive orders, the DNR resumed field days in August.

Resources program expanded

The MDHHS is expanding its Rapid Response Staffing Resources program, which offers assistance to long-term care facilities facing staffing shortages due to COVID-19.

“Since this program launched in July, surge staffing has been in high demand due to staff testing positive during regular COVID-19 testing in long-term care facilities,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director, in a statement. “To meet this need and ensure the safety of long-term care residents in Michigan, MDHHS is expanding the program statewide, adding additional staffing options and increasing the amount of time facilities can request emergency staffing.”

The program initially offered 72 hours or less of consecutive staffing assistance through 22nd Century Technologies, Inc., in 11 counties. The newly expanded program offers up to 120 hours of staffing to facilities in any part of the state. In addition, new staffing options have been added to include licensed practical nurses, social workers, direct care workers, dietary aides, dietary cooks and environmental services staff. This is in addition to registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, personal care aides and resident care assistants.

Nursing homes, assisted living centers, homes for the aged and adult foster care homes are eligible for the program. Facilities requiring staffing assistance will need to meet specific criteria and demonstrate they have exhausted all other options. Up to five staff members per shift can be requested and this can include one registered nurse or licensed practical nurse and one social worker. Facilities can choose the mix of staff that best fits their needs.

Rapid Response Staffing Resources will support long-term care facilities based on facility and resident need, but will be prepared to assist with activities of daily living, provide infection prevention assistance and provide environmental cleaning assistance. Facilities will be responsible for orienting staffing agency employees to resident care plans, as applicable, and providing on-site supervision at all times.

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