Thumbs-up: to what feels like a bit of normalcy in unsettling times — the Memorial Park playground in Blowing Rock opened recently amid squeals of children unpenting some pent-up energy. Exercise is one way to help beat the pandemic, and now children from 2 to 12 have one more public outlet to enjoy.

Thumbs-up: to a different sort of awareness week. Next week begins Diaper Awareness Week, and now the need is more present than ever for parents struggling to keep their children healthy and dry. The diaper bank works only through donations. To help, call the Children’s Council of Watauga County at (828) 262-5424 or visit

Thumbs-up: to helping those in need, which is also business as usual for Samaritan’s Purse. In addition to allocating resources to assist with COVID-19 as they are needed, the nonprofit organization is now in California, assisting homeowners now literally sifting through the ashes of their homes following devastating wildfires. To learn more or to help, visit

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