CINCINNATI — As the pandemic continues into the holiday season, the Living God Church in Avondale decided to put a new spin their toy drive this year, delivering tablets to kids and seniors alike in the hopes of alleviating feelings of isolation.
Dr. Dock Foster, pastor at Unity Baptist Church, also gave some to seniors in his congregation.
"Just sitting at home, it's hard for me and I get around," said Foster. "But I know it's definitely hard for them."
With COVID-19 deaths hitting the third-highest daily total of the pandemic, many church congregations comprised of older, high-risk worshipers have members who feel unsafe meeting face to face, but few have the means to technologically stay connected.
"The longer you don't have a connection, the longer you stay away in one shape or form, the harder it is to reconnect," said Larry Holley, pastor at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church.
It's an issue for students at Woodward and South Avondale schools, too, so staff from both schools collected tablets from the drive to surprise students before Christmas.
"We thought it would be a way to bless them as they go on into adulthood, whether they're going to pursue education or just adulthood, period," said Belinda Tubbs-Wallace, principal at Woodward Career Technical High School. "We know how important technology is."
Last year, Living God Church leaders mostly gave away bikes for kids. While they still dropped off a few at Roll Hill School in Price Hill last week, they also focused on raising money to buy tablets for students and seniors isolated during the pandemic.
"At least I got two down... Two churches and two schools down," said Sil Watkins, pastor at Living God Church. "I got three more schools."
Watkins is still 500 tablets short of his ultimate goal and waiting for several donors to come through.