Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum Intern Daisy Valenzuela prepares history packs to be distributed into the community for children to use while away from school. (Contributed Photos)

KING CITY — One South Monterey County museum has undertaken the task of making sure children stay entertained and educated while sheltering in place during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis with activity packets.

Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum (MCARLM) in King City distributed 203 packets on March 23 in order to serve area youth in the face of schools shutting down statewide.

“I decided to put together at-home history packs that would include museum-related, hands-on activities to provide education and an outlet for fun at the same time,” said Jessica Potts, executive director for MCARLM. “The major element of MCARLM’s mission is utilizing the tools and stories of the past that we have collected over the past four decades for the purpose of education. In this time of historic change, we just wanted to do our part to help.”

Each pack contained a 32-page activity book, three crafts along with the needed supplies, such as an Ohlone game called “Trallik,” and a supply pack containing crayons, markers, glue and a stick candy. A special coloring book was included for children under age 7. The crafts and lessons contained within were derived from educational outreach materials the museum has used in the past.

Feedback has been positive.

Potts said she received a message the following Monday with a recipient saying, “You guys are amazing! This crate is epic, Thank You from the bottom of our hearts!”

The museum announced the availability of packets on social media last week, and ran out of available packets by the weekend, causing them to implement a waiting list.

“We have had a surprising number of families that are outside my ability to deliver reach out requesting a pack, which is too big to mail,” Potts said. “I will be mailing the activity book to some of them. We have had people from as far as Sacramento and San Jose reach out to us.”

The waiting list currently includes 20 more children who will get packets once the museum can obtain more supplies.

Potts said the museum would evaluate the need to do another run and what it can handle after the full round of distribution ends. This is compounded by Potts being the only staff member on duty after sending other staffers home.

“I intend to do as many as I can get the supplies and am capable of putting together; however, due to the shelter-in-place order, unfortunately, it will have to be limited to those that I can deliver to within King City,” she said. “I will also be doing an activity book run that I can mail to those outside of King City, as long as funds last, as the postage is going to be quite a bit.”

Funding for the packets has been possible due to flexible use of some museum funding.

“Many of our grantors have been gracious enough to allow us to change our funding from intended programs to other needs,” Potts said. “My board and I felt this was a good use of those funds.”

Potts explained the museum would continue to use its resources to aid the community in the current time of need.

“The museum is here because of the community, for the community,” Potts said. “It only makes sense that we support the community as best we can in this time of need, as the community has supported us over the past 40 years.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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