Masking Up for the Common Good

CAN network sign. Photo by Joe O'Neill.

Photo by Joe O'Neill.

New campaign encourages safe shopping, learning

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson; video by Joe O'Neill

As the 2020 holiday season grows near and cooler winds drive us to spend more time indoors, face masks are more critical than ever in the battle against the spread of COVID-19. A new public health campaign, launched by Dickinson College and local leaders in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, aims to foster safe shopping and learning all across this historic college town.

The public health and educational initiative is led by Carlisle’s Community Action Network (CAN), a group founded and led by Dickinson President Margee M. Ensign that brings together leaders from Dickinson and the Carlisle business, nonprofit, faith-based, health care, law enforcement, government and military sectors to jointly address pressing issues in the local community.

On Nov. 18, CAN members distributed more than 4,000 masks to 120 local businesses, and each business pledged to encourage mask-wearing among employees and customers. CAN’s colorful “Shop Safely – Learn Safely” banners, on display along Hanover and High streets, reinforce the message.

Participating businesses are asked to place a sign in the window to show they're taking part.

Members of Carlisle's Community Action Network pose in the town square. "If we all do our part, we'll be able to stem the spread," said President Margee Ensign (front row, second from left).

Members of Carlisle's Community Action Network pose in the town square. "If we all do our part, we'll be able to stem the spread," says President Margee Ensign (front row, second from left).

Pat Craig, one of the 120 local business owners who signed the public-health pledge, is fully on board.

“Doing what we can to protect each other—I see that, really, as a simple kindness,” says Craig, who reopened Pat Craig Studios in downtown Carlisle last June after a three-month closure, with a new touchless hand sanitizer in the foyer and recommended sanitizing and social-distancing procedures in place. “It’s also something we can all do to help protect and preserve the downtown that we’ve all worked so hard, together, to build up.”

This campaign is just the latest local coronavirus-response initiative led by CAN, which has met weekly via Zoom since the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak to address related community needs and was honored by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council last May for its pioneering work.

“If we all do our part and wear a mask to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors, we’ll be able to stem the spread in our community,” says Ensign. “My hope is that other communities may follow this example and work together for the common good.”


Published November 18, 2020