Supporting the Community Through Covid


Charlene Pino

Charlene Pino with her new and updated puzzle tote after replacing the stolen box.

     It’s no secret that the impacts of Covid-19 were felt by the whole community.  Schools, families, businesses, and social life were hurt while we all stayed home for 2 years. 

      The Conifer community worked to come together and support each other during these difficult times by creating Little Libraries and Puzzle swaps around neighborhoods.

      “That gave me an idea to start a puzzle swap for my area,” small business owner Charlene Pino said,  “During that time, we were all told to stay home.  People needed things to do.”

     Pino worked hard to keep her puzzle box running smoothly. Throughout the winter she took time to shovel snow and build stands for the box.  Her goal is to bring joy to the community by offering a free service where you could find something new to do whether it was a puzzle or a game.  When she started the puzzle box there were no puzzles in-store or online because everyone was stuck at home.

     “If you´ve already done a puzzle, then it won´t be fun to do it again, so you go and get a new puzzle and somebody else gets to do your puzzle,” middle schooler, Alex Hyatt said. 

     The box was set up in February of 2020 and those using it have been able to connect with neighbors.  Debby Rothman, who does puzzles in as much of her free time as she can spare, mentions a connection to humanity as Covid blocked her from seeing family and friends, noting that her most memorable puzzles came from the puzzle box.

     “Each time I stopped the selection was different and the puzzles I’d contributed were gone. I never met another person during each swap, but the knowledge that nearby people were using that community box helped my mental state during isolation,” Rothman said.

     The puzzles and games constantly being switched out show Pino that people are using the puzzle box.  She wants to bring joy to the community and it helped bring people closer together during the hard times and quarantine. Meant for anyone in the community or neighborhood, the boxes are located at the intersection of Shadow Mt Rd and Warhawk and on Richmond Hill by the Fire Station. 

     When asked about her goals for the puzzle box, Pino responded, “to bring the community together to share puzzles and games with people.  They are free.  Not many things are free anymore.”