Columbus is an amazing community to be a part of, and even though it’s the biggest city in Ohio, it has the small town feel of the Midwest. It’s also special in that Columbus is rich in community resources and organizations. The pandemic showed this to be true, with help and support for those in need from organizations and members of the community.
There are community resources in Columbus that can help you through the pandemic – or whatever life throws are you, and there are plenty of activities, virtual and in-person for you to enjoy. Check out our weekend events calendar for things to do every weekend!
Until you are vaccinated, it’s recommended that you continue to maintain proper distance from those outside of your family. But life has to go on, so if you have to be out and about for work or other reasons, be sure to follow precautions as recommended by the Ohio Department of Health. Some of the basic recommendations include maintaining 6 ft distance, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. Most importantly, if you or someone you have been in recent contact with are showing any symptoms, you should remain home or call your healthcare provider for guidance.
Free resources in Columbus
If you have questions or need help with resources, call 2-1-1. Operators will help connect you to resources and social programs.
Find a whole section of resources regarding job loss, business assistance, home and utilities services, healthcare, food assistance, internet access, wifi, and more.
CAP4KIDS has a comprehensive list of community resources available during the coronavirus crisis (and beyond). Resources include city services, food assistance, emergency housing, unemployment benefits, educational resources, mental health assistance, and fun activities.
If you’ve been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, file online for unemployment benefits at unemployment.ohio.gov. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can call toll-free 1-877-644-6562 (excluding holidays) Monday through Friday 7 AM – 7 PM, and Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM. If you have questions about whether you qualify or how it’s calculated, see the questions and answers here. Please do not call until you’ve read through the questions – overwhelming the call center with phone calls will slow things down for everyone.
Older Adults: Staying Connected
To help ensure that older Ohioans stay connected while staying at home, Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy announced a new service today that will provide a daily check-in by phone for Ohioans age 60 or older.
Ohio Department of Aging’s Staying Connected program provides a daily check-in by phone for Ohioans age 60 or older. Older adults can sign up for a daily call for a predetermined amount of time. When participants answer the phone, they will be asked to respond via touch-tone to confirm that they are OK or to access live support.
If no one answers after three attempts, a call is then made to an alternate contact (if provided) or to non-emergency services. The service can be canceled at any time.
“Especially during this very challenging time, we encourage older Ohioans to sign up for the Ohio Department of Aging’s Staying Connected phone program. This program will help reduce isolation and support the health and well-being of older adults in our state,” said Robert Cornwell, Executive Director, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association.
Eligible Ohioans can sign up at aging.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-266-4346.
Staying Connected is not an emergency response service, and participants should always use 911 or their emergency response system if they are injured or in need of emergency assistance.
Food and Grocery Resources in Columbus
Pandemic EBT Plan
Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (OJFS) has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture for its Pandemic EBT plan. The Pandemic EBT program was included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.
The approval will allow OJFS to distribute SNAP benefits to 850,000 students across Ohio who relied on free or reduced-price meal programs when school was in session to have access to a hot, nutritious meal. The benefits will be mailed directly to students, and families do not need to apply to be eligible.
Families will receive approximately $300 to purchase healthy and nutritious foods to feed their children. These benefits amount to more than $250 million that will go to our grocery stores and other eligible retailers.
Check back for details on the 2021 Summer Lunch program. Details tba.
Blessing Boxes are outdoor cabinets in public places that are stocked with non-perishable food items, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and anything else that might be considered a blessing to someone who finds themselves in need. Items are anonymously donated and anonymously received. A simple rule applies – Leave what you can, take what you need. There are 38 Blessing Boxes around Columbus and about 20 more that go by other names
Find locations of Blessing Boxes around Central Ohio below or at this link.
Food banks are always a major player in preventing hunger, and in times like this, many more families may find themselves needing the assistance of food banks to get through the weeks. There are many food banks and food pantries located throughout Central Ohio. If you need assistance finding one, check with your local churches or call 2-1-1 for a list of community resources. Food banks may also be able to assist with pet food and baby care needs.
No one should be ashamed to need assistance from a food bank. Find a list of food assistance options for counties served by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
If you wish to help in your community and have the means, please consider making a food or monetary donation to a local food bank. Many food banks are able to provide up to 3 meals per every $1 donated.
Be a good neighbor
While we should practice proper distancing, we should also pull together with our communities. Please check on your neighbors to see if they have access to food, medicines, and basic household needs. It is especially important to check with relatives and neighbors who are elderly, disabled, home bound, or at risk for other reasons. Even if you cannot help directly with their needs, you may know of someone who can. Use social media for good!
Mental Illness, Drug and Alcohol Addiction, and Recovery Resources
Ohio Careline: 1-800-720-9616
The NORD Center Warm Line: 1-800-888-6161
Project DAWN – Ohio overdose prevention support.
Ohio Addiction Recovery Center – Columbus-based treatment center with numerous local COVID guides and online support resources.
Detox Local – A list of SAMHSA-approved detox centers near Columbus.
NAMI Ohio – Support for people with severe mental illness, as well as their family and close friends
At Home or Safe Activities
Things are reopening, but if you are high risk or concerned about being in public, you may choose to continue to stay home. You don’t have to sit at home and stare out the window. We have some ideas for you to make the most of your time while your social life is slow.
Now that we are heading into summer and warmer weather, you should spend time outdoors everyday. Fresh air and vitamin D are excellent at keeping you healthy and happy! Sit outside instead of the couch to scroll on your phone. Read a book or magazine. Have a picnic in your yard or on your porch. Clean out and plan your gardens. Plant a tree or two. Plant flowers – most nurseries are offering curbside pickup.
Go for a walk or bike ride! It can be long or short, fast or slow, but going for a walk for bike ride is good for you in nearly every way. Head out in your neighborhood, to a community park, or to one of our amazing Metro Parks. The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks trails are open, as well as many public gardens. You can walk for miles in a metro park without running into another person, so it’s a safe and healthy activity for those who are capable of walking in nature.
As always, it’s always best to go with another person. If you go by yourself, tell someone the exact plan for your walk (location, time, and expected end time). Cell phone service is not available in all areas of the metro parks, and if you get lost or injured, that information could help locate you quickly. You should also carry water and a whistle if you are exploring an unfamiliar area, or a path that is not well-marked.
Go for a drive!
Gas is still reasonable, so going for a drive in a new (or favorite) area is a great way to kill some time.
Spring Clean and organize
This isn’t fun, but you’ll be so happy once your see progress! Do a full spring cleaning. Start to switch out seasonal clothing. Go through clothing, toys, and household goods to find things that you need to get rid of. Set up boxes labeled trash and donate so it will be easy to get the sorted item out of your house.
Organize the garage, shed, and/or basement. Get out your patio furniture or clean it off.
Complete small diy projects inside your house, like hanging framed photos or art, painting walls, rearranging furniture. Need to borrow some tools? Franklin County residents can borrow tools from ModCon Living’s Free Tool Rental Library with membership.
Do some digital organization. Organize photos and delete ones you don’t want. Clear out your email inbox. Delete or organize folders in your computer.
Revisit or learn a new hobby
If life has gotten busy and you gave up on a hobby, it may be time to revisit it, or pick a new one! Get caught on printed photo albums and scrapbooks, or organize your digital photos. Plan your garden. Make something (cooking, baking sewing, knitting, drawing, painting, or more).
Use your library card!
While some libraries are still closed or limited, you can utilize so many library resources without leaving your house! Sign up online for a library card (if you don’t have one), and you’ll have access to thousands of books, audiobooks, movies, magazines, music, and more!
You can read books on your phone or other personal device for FREE using Libby, Tumblebooks learning for kids, other apps featuring media available through the Ohio Digital Library and more.
- Columbus Metropolitan Library Systems
- Delaware County District Libraries
- Pataskala Public Library
- Westerville Public Library
- Worthington Libraries
- Upper Arlington Public Library
- Southwest Public Libraries
- Bexley Public Library
- Marysville Public Library
- Licking County Library System
It’s the perfect time to get in shape! Walk or run outside, do free online fitness programs (YouTube is great for this!), calisthenics and body weight workouts, stretch and more! Get moving and prevent weight gain from being stuck at home! Many gyms are still open, but may not be offering group fitness or childcare options.
Explore a museum – virtually!
Google Arts & Culture has a list of over 500 museums offering online tours and exhibits from around the globe! Explore art and culture from around the world from your couch!
We will be continually be add to this list as resources and ideas are discovered!
Other articles of interest
Other articles of interest
- Free or cheap events this weekend in Columbus
- Fun and Tasty Adventure Trails in Ohio
- The most beautiful public gardens in Columbus
- Planetariums and Astronomy: Best places to see the stars in Ohio
- Walking labyrinths in Columbus and Central Ohio
- Great places for creeking in Columbus
- Caverns, animals, and more at Olentangy Indian Caverns
- Nature walks and scenic hiking trails in Columbus
- Best places to pick berries in Columbus
- The best Dog Parks in Columbus
- Best photography locations in Columbus
- Best Places for Canoeing and Kayaking in Columbus
- Get started with Disc Golf in Columbus at these great courses
- Food freebies, delivery, and cheap eats in Columbus
- Farmers Markets in Columbus (and the changes for 2020)
- Farm delivery and CSA’s in Columbus for local produce, meat, and dairy
- Drive in Theatres in Ohio