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YMCA wellness director Lisa Hykes.

The Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville is making it easier for people to stick to their New Year’s resolutions this January, and they’re doing it all for a good cause.

All month long, the YMCA is waiving its joiner’s fee for new members who donate a new pair of adult socks. The socks collected are being donated to seniors in local nursing homes.

“We always want to give back, especially to those most in need,” said Kristin Vaughan, executive director of the YMCA. “But this year in particular, we know so many more people are struggling and we want to do anything we can do to bring a little joy.”

The YMCA usually runs two “no joiner’s fee” promotions ever year, each in conjunction with some type of drive. Vaughan said this sock drive is inspired by the elderly patients who have been unable to have visitors in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaughan said the YMCA’s Membership & Marketing Director Amy Owen reached out to local nursing homes to ask what their residents needed most.

Previous “no joiner’s fee” promotions have greatly bolstered membership at the YMCA. In January 2020, 158 members joined or renewed their memberships. Due to COVID, October’s promotion only brought in 57 new or renewed members. Vaughan said the YMCA has seen a 30% decrease in membership during the pandemic. The gym’s staff is hoping the New Year and rollout of the COVID vaccine will allow returning members to feel more comfortable.

“I think the most exciting thing about joining the Y is that we have such a great resource for improving one’s health right here in our own community,” Vaughan said. “Between having to be quarantined at home, potentially overeating while doing so, and the tendency to be less active while at home, this year has taken a toll on many people’s health.

Vaughan said joining the YMCA is a great way to help recover from challenges imposed by the pandemic.

“Social isolation can lead to depression and mental health challenges. Thus, I really feel the Y can play a crucial role in getting people back on track, boosting energy levels, fighting depression and building a stronger immune system that will hopefully help prevent illness and if one does become ill, help them recover more quickly.”

The YMCA is following all COVID-19 procedures. All entrants are screened and have their temperatures checked.

Masks are required and more hand sanitizing stations are set up around the facility. Also, social distancing guidelines are enforced in all activity rooms and group classes.