With the Coronavirus shutting down more than half the country and confining people to their homes, it’s safe to say that we’re all suffering from a little bit of cabin fever. But while we’re limited with our contact to the outside world, communities themselves seem to be growing stronger. 

We all know that the big companies are helping out by making more masks and hand sanitizer, but communities are banding together to give aid as well. From programs to help the elderly and at risk obtain groceries, to neighborhoods putting their Christmas lights up to show solidarity, people are stepping up to support each other during this crisis. 

I visited my mother before our home state of NJ shut down, and once shelter in place was issued, her neighborhood began to change drastically. We walked the dogs every day, and the further into quarantine we got, the more people we saw out and about. 

“It’s so different from how everything normally is around here,” She said to me as we waived at a couple across the street. “I’m seeing people out that I didn’t even know lived here. And all the kids are outside now, too.” That was certainly true. The outdoors were now alive with movement and sound; people training their dogs and having small bonfires despite the early March chill that hung in the air. We passed a house that had five or six children hanging from the branches of a pear tree, the smallest chasing down my Yorkie on his tricycle. 

“What a strange tree!” Mom remarked “It’s growing fruit that looks like children! They look almost ready to harvest, too.” Some of them laughed, while others looked at us like we had three heads. 

Besides the outward changes in our communities, people are adapting behind closed doors, too. A family friend of ours and her daughter helped plan a surprise birthday party over skype for another family member. The youngest boy of that same family also took part in a virtual sleepover, sharing screens with his friends to play games and watch movies. All of the modern technology certainly helps us stay connected when we can’t be together. 

Hopefully, when things began to return to some semblance of normalcy, all this newfound charitable spirit we’ve been putting to use won’t disappear. Being able to count on your neighbors during tough times is a blessing, but we shouldn’t forget to show up for each other when all is well, too.