From the Magazine

5 Things to Be Happy About While Social Distancing

The surprising ways people have found to connect while apart.

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With social distancing keeping people apart, folks across the country are finding beautiful ways to be there for one another…and prove that we will all get through this together!

Cuddly Bears in Windows

When Heidi Williams saw on her Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, Facebook page that people in her area had put teddy bears in their windows so kids could go on a teddy bear “hunt,” she knew this was just the fun and safe outing she, her husband and their two young daughters, ages two and five, needed to cheer them up during this difficult time of social distancing.

As they drove around town, people waved from driveways, other cars passed with smiling kids inside and, by the end of their excursion, Heidi’s little girls had counted roughly 50 adorable teddy bears! “This small act of kindness that costs no money brought such joy to us and so many others,” Heidi says. “We will forever remember that wonderful afternoon of togetherness.”

Christmas Lights — Take 2!

After a friend put up Christmas lights in March to cheer up her kids during quarantine, Pittsburg resident Dan Garcia felt his own mood brighten. So much so that he not only bedecked his own house, but also founded the “Lights of Hope” Facebook group to encourage others to shine the symbol of hope in their own neighborhoods. The idea touched and warmed hearts around the world as thousands of people pulled out their holiday decorations and wrapped their homes in light and love.

“This is pure joy!” says Jennie Leonard, Dan’s friend and co-administrator of the Lights of Hope Facebook group, which now has more than 2,100 members. “It’s something to help keep everyone’s minds off all of the COVID-19 stress, and it’s so inspiring to see how many people this movement has lifted and brought together!”

Teacher Parades

Students and teachers alike were sad and scared after schools abruptly closed this spring, says Pamela Lathrop, principal of High Plain Elementary School in Andover, Massachusetts. “We wanted to send kids the message that we’re going to be okay,” she explains. So, like other educators in cities across the country, the school staff got in their cars decorated with signs saying “we miss you” and paraded past students’ homes. “Everyone was waving and cheering,” she smiles. “It was so heartwarming. There was a real sense of community!”

Colorful Chalk Masterpieces

Initially, Lindsay Patterson of Melbourne, Florida, started drawing and writing positive messages in colored chalk on the sidewalk for her family to have something fun to do. But soon, neighbors were not only thanking them as they passed by, but more families began sharing uplifting and inspiring pictures and messages on the sidewalk in front of their homes as well. And thanks to the power of social media, the beautiful trend was soon sweeping the country. Lindsay couldn’t be happier. “For us, it’s about lifting other people,” she says. “When the weight of the world is on you, and you’re looking down, this reminds you of all the reasons to look up!”

Smiles — Revealed!

While putting on his gear in the ER before a shift at Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez realized how frightening having his face covered must be to his patients. At a time when no family or friends are allowed in to offer reassuring smiles, Robertino came up with a loving way to do it himself. “I made a giant laminated badge so patients can still see my comforting smile and know behind the mask I’m still smiling at them!” he says. His “Share Your Smile” movement soon went viral as medical personnel from around the world began following his lead. As one post on his Instagram page noted, Not all angels have wings. Some have stethoscopes.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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