Greenwood city council member spreading the love

A longtime Greenwood city council member wants to give a little positive energy to those who are most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and she’s asking for the community’s help. 

Linda Gibson, who represents District 1 on the Greenwood City Council, started "Smiles from Our Kids," a project that encourages Greenwood kids, teens and adults to create small drawings with positive notes for senior citizens, first responders and health care workers in the city.

Gibson is actively involved in the city’s senior community, serving on the board of directors for The Social, the city’s senior center, and Greenwood Village South Senior Living Community.

When the senior center closed in March due to the spread of the coronavirus, a respiratory illness that has proved deadly, especially to the elderly and autoimmune, she went to work, coming up with something she’s sure will bring local seniors joy while they’re stuck at home.

"It was really difficult on our seniors because many of them were used to coming in for regular social activity," Gibson said. "They were quickly experiencing anxiety from not getting out to be with anyone."

To participate, anyone can email Gibson a photo of a drawing, a colored picture or a special note to senior citizens, neighbors, health care workers or first responders. Then, Gibson will arrange to have the pictures distributed to local senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police and fire stations in Greenwood, she said.

"Anybody who wants to do it can—kids, adults and teenagers alike," she said. "It’s anybody (who) wants to help everyone get through this."

Gibson wanted to extend the project to first responders and health care workers as well, to tape on their walls or carry with them for positive reinforcement, she said. 

"There’s still a lot of people who continue to work to protect the rest of us," Gibson said. "I know Community South said they would love to have pictures they can tape up to (encourage) their medical staffs."

She also encourages those who participate to tape their drawings to the front doors of neighbors they know live alone or need support, she said.

This wouldn’t require any personal contact, staying in compliance with social distancing, she said.

Many people don’t realize that a lot of senior citizens live alone, so a small note from someone in the community will mean a lot to them, Gibson said. 

"I’ve got a list of people I’m calling every day just because I know this is a struggling time for them," she said. "One lady, the highlight of her day now is watching squirrels out the window or watching people walk by … they’re getting to the point where it seems like the walls are closing in on them."

Gibson launched "Smiles from Our Kids" Monday, but hadn’t received any submissions Tuesday. She understands people need time to let their creative juices flow, she said. She plans to distribute the photos out on her own, but also has friends who can help if she becomes overwhelmed, she said.

Her goal with the project is to reinforce community involvement, and encourage others to look after their neighbors, especially during a crisis, she said. 

"So many people want to do something, but they feel helpless," Gibson said. "This gives us an opportunity to help during this horrendous time we’re in.

"This is just something that is positive, and I hope it will lift spirits."

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Here is a look at Greenwood city council member Linda Gibson’s "Smiles from Our Kids" project, and how you can help:

Create a drawing, color a picture or write a note to senior citizens, first responders or health care workers, take a photo of it and email it to: [email protected].

Open to all ages.