As folks around the country prepare to celebrate a different kind of Thanksgiving, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on how this year has also brought people together amid the unknown. When COVID-19 began spreading in the United States and millions of people began working and learning from home, America’s broadband and entertainment leaders asked themselves what they could do to help their communities and neighbors.
ISPs and TV networks connect with communities every day, and their involvement goes beyond the internet services and entertainment offerings they provide, whether it’s through their involvement in local events, partnerships, or school functions. Through foundation work, grant giving, partnership collaboration, and company-wide volunteer efforts, cable operators and TV networks are deeply invested in and committed to seeing the communities they serve thrive and grow. And in 2020, they doubled down on their giving efforts, nationally and locally, in robust and creative ways. A lot of these efforts have centered around helping children get through this difficult and confusing time. In addition to the distance learning efforts that have been underway since March to help millions of school-aged students get online, ISPs and TV networks have launched unique and creative events for kids and families during lock-down periods, as well as donated computers and technology for families in need.
ViacomCBS, parent company of networks like BET and Nickelodeon, partnered with the Ad Council to produce and air a wide variety of PSAs to spread vital public health information about COVID-19. Then there was HBO’s Sesame Street, which held a virtual play date with Elmo and friends over Zoom early in the pandemic, when kids were just getting used to being at home and away from school and their friends. Cartoon Network also launched a new initiative, CNCheckIn, to keep kids entertained and informed while at home using creative PSAs and tutorials. The PSAs show how to properly wash hands, social distance from friends, and do-it-yourself projects and how-to-draw lessons to keep kids doing hands-on activities at home.
MTV has always been proactive when it comes to spreading awareness among its younger audiences. The network produced 'Prom-athon,’ which featured Michelle Obama who kicked off a virtual prom for those high school seniors missing out on their school dance. Prom-athon partnered with the "When We All Vote" nonprofit to encourage 18-year-olds to register to vote and to participate in civic events.
And in Thanksgiving-related news, Cox Communications in the Las Vegas region recently donated $100,000 and 100 turkeys to the Salvation Army in advance of the holiday season.
These are only a tiny fraction of efforts that have been underway this year, and the list keeps on growing. As America prepares to celebrate a unique Thanksgiving, the cable industry will continue to come together to help communities through this unprecedented time, and to prepare for a bright future with endless possibilities.