SEQUIM — While their moms, dads, grandmothers and grandfathers serve as nurses, doctors, food service workers and in other essential occupations during the coronavirus pandemic, children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula have received a boost to help them keep their imaginations active.
Susan Baritelle, owner of Dungeness Kids Co., 163 W. Washington St., brought in about 400 activity books from her shop for the Sequim and Port Angeles clubs April 1.
Baritelle connected with Sequim club employee Tessa Jackson about providing activities for the children.
“(Jackson) said children must play individual activities (because of social distancing), and they’re running out of things to do,” she said.
Baritelle said she reached out to the community saying that for each $5 activity book purchased, she’d donate one, too. That resulted in more than $1,400 raised from community members with more coming in, Baritelle said.
Since the pandemic began impacting the area, Baritelle estimates her business revenue has been down about 45 percent.
“It has impacted me, but we’re getting lots of support and people reaching out, which is amazing,” she said.
Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, said each child is given a personal bag of activities and books, not sharing them, so as to prevent any potential spread of the virus.
“It’s been so lovely to get the donations,” Budke said.
Clubs open space
As coronavirus regulations remain, the Sequim and Port Angeles Boys & Girls Clubs remain open to no more than 40 children at each site.
Budke said the clubs host as many as 20 children in Sequim and 14 in Port Angeles, with numbers varying each day. She said they recently made an agreement with the YMCA of Sequim that if the Sequim club sees more than 40 children they’ll expand offerings to the recreational facility.
Budke said the clubs offer space to all essential workers’ children ages 5-and-a-half to 14.
“This is for people who really need to work,” she said. “Here it’s not play time. It’s supervised care for children while their parents go to work.”
Families who work in Sequim or Port Angeles can arrange a reservation in those cities with the club following a phone screening. To make a reservation in Sequim, call 360-683-8095; in Port Angeles, call 360-417-2831.
Activity and meals
Inside the clubs, children are kept in cohorts of nine children with one staffer while maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet, Budke said.
Xs and Os are marked throughout the clubs for spacing and touch points are cleaned every two hours. Each child’s temperature is taken in the morning to check for symptoms of COVID-19.
For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, see www.bgc-op.org/.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].