To say 2020 has been a difficult year is quite possibly the greatest understatement of all time.
People are facing threats to their physical, mental and financial health. Small businesses have struggled to stay afloat amidst the global pandemic. One local organization has weathered the disappointment of having to cancel the events they have become known for while finding new and creative initiatives to both engage and support the residents and small businesses in their community.
The Jessup 21st Century Association has been creating beautification projects and supporting the Jessup community with year round events since 1995. Their largest annual events, The Jessup Wine Tasting (the official kickoff to St. Ubaldo week), The 5th of July Celebration and The Santa Train’s stop at Jessup’s Station Park have become staples in the borough and the surrounding communities.
This year was to be no different. In fact, 2020 was supposed to be particularly special as The Jessup 21st Century Association is celebrating their 25th anniversary and planned to make this year’s events the biggest and best to date. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has laid waste to even the best laid plans of 2020, and all of The Jessup 21st Century Association’s traditional events were cancelled.
Rather than sulk over the cancellation of their festivities, the members of the Jessup 21st chose to adapt and do what they could for the community within the confines of the restrictions the pandemic had caused. They wanted to find a way to help both the people and businesses who were struggling during these unprecedented times.
This desire to help lead to the creation of the Jessup 21st Century Association’s JESSUP STRONG campaign. The program started when Jessup 21st raised money within the community, purchased gift cards from Jessup’s restaurants and donated the cards to families in need. This initiative epitomized their theme of neighbors helping neighbors.
The second stage of JESSUP STRONG was a pay it forward drive where Jessup 21st encouraged folks to pre-purchase their first post lockdown hair cut/styling from one of the borough’s barbershops or salons. Lastly, Jessup 21st conducted a fund drive to purchase PPE supplies for the Jessup Hose companies and police department.
Jessup 21st was thrilled with the community’s overwhelming response to JESSUP STRONG. President Genie Lupini described it as “yet another example of the wonderful spirit and generosity of the residents and businesses of Jessup.”
In addition to the JESSUP STRONG campaign, The Jessup 21st Association really wanted to find a way to give people a reason to smile. Community events are our specialty and we weren’t about to let COVID-19 stop them from putting some smiles on the faces of Jessup’s youngest residents and helping to build holiday excitement.
Their Drive By Easter Bunny event attracted hundreds of cars with children and adults alike waving to and beeping at the Easter Bunny, who was kind enough to make an appearance outside of Station Park. Not to be outdone, the one and only Santa Claus was the featured guest at the Jessup 21st’s Candy Cane Lane event, where you could drive by and say hi to Santa at the Hose Company Np. 2 and each child received one of the hundreds of stockings the 21st Century members stuffed with toys and candy.
Through the end of the month, we are combing the streets of Jessup looking for beautifully decorated homes for our 12 Days of Christmas Lights promotion. A dozen homes will be chosen and each of them will receive a gift card purchased from a Jessup business.
No one knows what 2021 has in store for us or when we will all be able to return to our pre-COVID normal. What we do know is that no matter what obstacles we may face, The Jessup 21st Century Association will be there to support and entertain the community they love. And though it might be a little later than originally planned, there will at some point be one heck of a 25th anniversary celebration. You won’t want to miss it.
Kristen Wolfe is an interior Designer at BDA Architects in Clarks Summit. She moved to Jessup in 2015 and has been involved with The Jessup 21st Century Association for five years. The group promotes community events, businesses and recreational opportunities throughout the borough. Wolfe is one of the group’s newest members and dedicated force to improving the borough.