WEST ORANGE, NJ — As they continue to practice social distancing while COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, West Orange residents are finding ways to make the situation more bearable through kindness-related activities. One of these activities is has been dubbed the "Appreciation Applause," which has become a 7 p.m. nightly activity in town.

Each evening, West Orange residents step outside their homes to clap, sing, make noise and hang out on their lawns. These Appreciation Applause moments, started by resident Stacey Reese, are a way of showing unity and thanks within the community.

According to Reese, the goal of the activity is to “clap and make noise out on front porches” in appreciation of those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

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Some neighbors sing songs, while others play the drums or ring cowbells. According to Reese, many neighbors also “simply go on their front lawns with a glass of wine and wave and chat" with each other.

Cyndy Rintzler, who lives in a different part of town from Reese, agreed, saying that she finds it rewarding to be able to show gratitude toward residents who are considered essential workers.

Adding that she “loves [her] community," Rintzler said she enjoys being able to “spread cheer to the lonely" each night. The Appreciation Applause has been a “fun and therapeutic” way to let those helping community members to “keep [their] sanity right now” know that they are in their thoughts.

For Reese, participating is a way of “coming together as a community" while staying socially distant. She also said the activity “gives [the community] something to look forward to every night.”

When it's rainy or cold, Reese said participants have been finding alternative ways to show their unity, such as putting bears in windows, lighting candles, or painting rainbows.

“Kids really enjoy these activities, and the adults enjoy watching their kids find something productive and meaningful to do,” said Reese.

With every day that passes, Reese said the movement grows bigger and stronger, with more and more neighbors participating in all parts of town.

“It truly goes to show that even from afar, we’re all in this together," she said. “That is what truly matters at the end of the day.”

Editor's Note: This article will be first in a series of articles on “acts of kindness” in the West Orange community amidst the coronavirus pandemic. If you know of someone or a business that has done something kind or special that deserves recognition, or if you have done something notable, please email jackie.tapinto@gmail.com or call or text 201-618-7444, for possible inclusion in a future article.