By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
The most wonderful time of the year does not have to be limited to the holiday season, as a local coffee shop plans to offer weekly activity packages throughout the winter.
Wired Rooster owner Amanda Ninneman said they’ve always seen the coffee shop as a community space, but since current COVID-19 restrictions are limited to take-out orders only, it felt “bizarre and wrong to not let people gather here.”
“We felt the same way last March when we closed down completely for a month and half,” she said. “We’re headed into what could be a long winter for everyone, not only weather-wise, but in dealing with all of the craziness associated with COVID-19.”
March brought sunshine and warm weather, so the coffee shop offered a challenge to residents: chalk up the sidewalks to encourage a sense of community and rally spirits.
As much fun as chalking is, it’s not quite feasible in the winter, so Ninneman brainstormed other ways to connect with the community and lift spirits on a regular basis.
Ten weekly envelopes will be sent out to those who sign up by Dec. 28. The cost is $40 for the 10 weeks. A sign up link is available on the Wired Rooster’s Facebook page or people can purchase and sign up in the shop as well.
The idea comes from solutions to keep people active and engaged when they need to stay home. Ninneman’s kids have been enjoying the Caledonia Public Library’s virtual classes and take-home kits.
Many organizations have turned to creative ideas like those in order to keep serving their community in a safe way. Ninneman complimented the library and its partners for the activities they hosted.
“At the shop, we’ve been really missing our Trivia Nights and Adults Storytimes and more,” she said. “Doing a regular mailing seemed like an opportunity to still be able to have a little bit of that same fun, and give people something to look forward to in their mailbox each week. Everyone likes getting mail, right?”
What’s in the envelopes?
It’s fun getting packages in the mail, and for this activity, each envelope will have three to five (possibly more) different items each week, Ninneman said. The first envelope will be sent out Jan. 4, 2021.
The goal is to include a variety of things each week so that at least one thing will resonate, she added.
Envelopes are also tailored to ages. Adult versions will likely have activities such as word games, interesting local historical articles or photographs, recipes, poems or short stories, trivia questions and a paper craft or other guided activity.
Kids versions will be similar, but geared more toward younger participants. Those who sign up have been asked to note the ages of kids when they sign up for a kids version, just in case an envelope needs to be customized in order to ensure an activity suits their age.
Each person’s envelope will generally be the same, but there will be a few variations in items like stickers or paper patterns, Ninneman said.
Also included in the fun-stuffed envelopes will be a local business featured every week. There could be a coupon or a fun activity or historical article connected with the business.
A few of the items may be Caledonia-specific, but they’re also trying to pick ones that would be appealing to non-Caledonians as well. Anyone outside of the Caledonia area can enjoy the subscription with the majority of envelope’s contents.
So far, the Wired Rooster is seeing a wide age range signing up, from adults to kids.
“Adults getting a subscription for themselves or friends just for fun, for their kids or grandkids, and for their parents or other older adults who might be more isolated right now,” Ninneman said. “And that’s exactly what we were hoping for!”
The last envelope goes out on March 8. If there’s a good response for the activity packages, there’s a good chance the service will return next winter, Ninneman said. It’s also possible they could do a summer batch if enough people are asking for it.
For now, they’re looking forward to providing fun winter activities.