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Teen makes ‘hugging booths’ for nursing homes amid pandemic

December 26, 2020 GMT

YAZOO CITY, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi 17-year-old created “hugging booths” for a local assisted living home as part of an Eagle Scout project so that families can embrace loved ones safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooper Williams of Madison County told WLBT-TV that after seeing so many families that had to be separated because of the virus, he wanted to do something to help.

Hugging booths are structures made with a plastic sheet with armholes loved ones can use to embrace. Williams built each booth himself.

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One booth was donated to each building within Martha Coker Senior Services in Yazoo City. Family members can book an appointment to use them.

Since the start of the pandemic, those who have family members at the facility could only have window visits with their loved ones.

Earlier this month, families had a chance to try the booths for the first time.

Gale Hilderbrand said it was the first time in eight months she had hugged her mother.

“We’ve been looking for this and been begging for it for a long time,” Hilderbrand said. “That’s mama. I’m her baby girl so that’s special, that means a whole lot.”

Resident Kathleen Griffin began crying with joy when she had the chance to see and hold her youngest son.

Stayce Allen, life enrichment director at Martha Coker Senior Services, said seeing residents use the booths was “moving” and “uplifting” during a time that has been difficult for many families.