WEST ORANGE, NJ — As they continue to practice social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many West Orange residents, like Cyndy Rintzler and her daughters, have been performing acts of kindness.

Earlier this week, Rintzler's two daughters—Emily, an 11-year-old Edison Middle School student, and Maggie, a 9-year-old Gregory Elementary School student—spent some of their free time to creating chalk messages outside Renna House, one of four senior-living facilities in West Orange, in order to “brighten up the days of the residents inside” and “express appreciation” to the nurses.

Prior to starting the project, Rintzler contacted Senior Services Coordinator Laura Van Dyke to make sure it was permissible. Touched by the girls’ kindness, Van Dyke encouraged the idea, stating that many of the senior residents like to watch the comings and goings outside their windows.

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With Van Dyke’s blessing, the family picked a sunny day when school and workloads were light and ventured out to “spread kindness.”

“I think so many of us are realizing that we miss the power of a hug, a casual pat on the back or even the proximity of a friend or relative that doesn’t live with us,” said Rintlzer, who hoped the art would “put a smile” on the residents' faces.

During this unprecedented period of home confinement, Van Dyke said “the generosity of the West Orange community has risen to the occasion.”

"It is truly heartwarming to witness neighbors extending a helping hand to seniors by purchasing groceries, picking up prescriptions and calling the office of Senior Services for more resources," she said. 

According to Van Dyke, churches, therapists, nurses, friends and strangers have also been “calling to volunteer their expertise and support.”

“Despite the circumstances, the bonds of unity between residents grow greater by the hour with kind deeds, profound actions, encouraging words, and reassuring smiles,” said Van Dyke. “I have no doubt this town will survive and emerge as a stronger community because people cared about people who pulled together to forge forward for a brighter future.”

On the wall at the lower lot of the library and on the sidewalk in front of the senior center, Emily and Maggie drew pictures of the sun, flowers, hearts, animals and more with messages like “Smile,” “Have a good day,” and “Sunshine." They also wrote “Thank You” and “You Rock” in the area where nurses park.

Rintlzer especially like their drawing of Kermit, which was accompanied by a funny message saying, "It's not easy being green or in quarantine."

Emily, who was “glad to do something good for others,” also “hoped the people living inside could see what they had done for them.” Maggie thought doing the project was fun and was “happy to be out of the house doing a nice thing for others.”