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The holiday season seems lonely for many this year – especially for communities of seniors who are forced to self-isolate as they are at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Moscow resident Kath Strickler was inspired to find a way to contact older people in the area after hearing a story from a family friend who has been struggling lately after nine long months in lockdown in an assisted living center. “This story broke my heart,” Strickler said. After hearing this story, Strickler emailed five of his close friends – Jodi McClory, Jocelyn Aycrigg, Jana Horne, Susan Spalinger and Kelly Jennings – to involve them in a plan to create gift baskets for residents of two assisted living centers in town. . … An annual Palouse Pathways event that aims to connect college-linked high school students with area students is being held virtually this year, but organizers said the online format has not been a hindrance. Palouse Pathways director Peggy Jenkins said the event, which normally takes place over a single afternoon, was split into three separate conference calls hosted through Zoom. While there is no free coffee or pizza available this year, Jenkins said she was encouraged to attend these and other functions hosted by Palouse Pathways in a year overshadowed by a pandemic.

Christmas weekend – one of the busiest weekends for fire departments across the country – was mostly non-emergency for the Pullman Fire Department, but that didn’t mean it was ‘it had gone off without incident. Firefighters rushed to the Pullman Fire Department for a traditional turkey dinner – it wasn’t on fire either. They got together just for the fire family celebrations and were able to through a slow weekend. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve are the second and third largest kitchen fires in the United States, just behind Thanksgiving. But as of 4 p.m. in the afternoon, the Pullman Fire Department did not respond to any kitchen or Christmas tree fires. … Veterans like Mike Lucey spent Christmas Eve on South Jackson Street in Moscow with a fishing net asking passers-by to donate to homeless veterans. Lucey, a Vietnamese-era veteran, spent eight years on the streets looking for a way out. Now he volunteers with the Guardians Foundation of Post Falls, Idaho, and he works to find a way out for other homeless veterans. Lucey had a pinched sciatic nerve and was unable to walk for most of his homelessness time. One day, as Lucey walked out of a Wal-Mart in eastern Spokane, he saw a table for the Guardians Foundation, a nonprofit that provides more housing to veterans than any other in the northwest of the interior. At noon the next day, Lucey was in a house in Coeur d’Alene.

Christmas is a time of tradition and members of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church congregation began their own Sunday with a community dinner after the Holy Eucharist. The church holds an annual Thanksgiving dinner, Reverend Robin Biffle said, but this year congregation members Nate Wiltsie and his partner Paul Collins wanted to give the community a Christmas present in the form of a holiday dinner. “It’s so much of an expression of who this congregation is,” Biffle said. “It was a delight, but in that sense, not a surprise.” Sudden illness sidelined Wiltsie on Sunday, but Collins, his stepmother Bea O’Neill, and several other volunteers were down in the church early that morning making turkeys, hams and a certain number of side dishes. … The books are still arriving for the new 10,000-book library on the island of Rota, just north of Guam and over a thousand miles east of the Philippines. These last books come, like the 10,000, not directly from New York publishers or Amazon.com, but readers of the magazine MaryJanesFarm, published by MaryJane Butters, its founder, a resident of Moscow. Until the library reopened last summer, the people of Rota had been without a community library since December 1997, when Super Typhoon Paka hit the Pacific Island, devastating the island’s newly completed library and damaging so seriously his books that they must have been burned. Last year, Aimee Steiner, a literacy activist working on Rota, wanted to ask for help in Moscow, 6,000 miles away.