A kind neighbor organized a "drive-by" celebration for a pre-teen's birthday as his plans were canceled owing to the Coronavirus epidemic.
As a result of the various precautions our local governments are telling us to take because of the Coronavirus epidemic, many of us have had to miss out on plans we were really looking forward to. Whether it was a spring break trip or a wedding, we are all making sacrifices by canceling large gatherings for the greater good. However, that doesn't mean we can't get creative. Jack Eaton, who recently turned 11 years old, was looking forward to his birthday party this year. Sadly, they got canceled as his family decided to practice social distancing. Therefore, their neighbor Amanda Overstreet Wagner came up with a brilliant idea to make the preteen feel special, CNN reports.
Amanda is a travel agent, but due to the circumstances, her work hasn't kept her quite as occupied as usual. She has thus taken it upon herself to become a "neighborhood social distance event planner." When she heard about Jack's predicament, she came up with the idea of a rolling birthday party. After contacting her neighbors and Jack's friends, she got them all to climb into their cars holding streamers, wearing party hats and carrying posters that wished Jack a happy birthday. Then, they all drove by his house and surprised him. While it wasn't the birthday party he originally had in mind, it was a complete surprise and made him feel super special after a difficult few weeks.
"It's been a really hard couple of weeks," Jack's mom Jessica Eaton explained. "So, I think Amanda knew of just the family that could use a smile." The young boy lost his grandfather on March 2. He headed to the funeral and returned to his home in Marietta, Georgia, only to find out that his school had shut down amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. That was right about the time that Jack could have used a little bit of emotional support from his best mates. Unfortunately, they, like his family, were all practicing social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. That's why his birthday party, which was supposed to be held on March 22, was canceled.
Thankfully, Amanda came to the rescue. In an interview with CNN, she shared, "I thought 'what if for Jack's birthday we rallied all the neighborhood moms and their kids and made a little birthday caravan to drive by his house and wish him a happy birthday?'" She sent out a group text to all the neighbors and asked them to head over to Jack's driveway at 1 pm on his birthday. Ultimately, the plan went off without a hitch. Posting about the rolling festivities, Jack's mom wrote on Facebook, "Today is Jack’s 11th birthday. We thought today would be memorable because it would be a lonely, quarantined birthday like no other, but it turns out it will be an extremely memorable birthday like NO other for a VERY different reason! Thanks to Amanda Overstreet Wagner and her creative, swift, heartfelt organizational skills, several neighbors near and dear to our hearts created a caravan to send Jack birthday wishes (from six feet away) on his special day! It reminded us all that birthdays are not about presents, cakes, and extravagant parties, but they are a chance to give thanks for LIFE. Birthdays are a time to reflect on the past... A time celebrate the present... And a time to set goals for the future... And, of course, a time to remind loved ones that they matter in this crazy world! Thanks to all of you who turned Jack’s birthday into a forever memory!"
As a whole neighborhood came together to celebrate a little boy's birthday, it was a reminder of the importance of community during this time. "I feel like some of this coronavirus has been more dividing us as Americans rather than uniting," Amanda said. "So, in my little neighborhood in the suburbs of Atlanta, I'm trying to be more of a unifying factor. I think people right now are looking for something little that they can do to make an impact or have a positive impact on somebody else. It's free; it doesn't cost a dime." With this in mind, she has been organizing several activities that can be done while social distancing. In the recent past, she executed a rainbow scavenger hunt, wherein kids and families drew rainbows on their homes in chalk. She will soon be holding a "graduation caravan" in honor of high school seniors and fifth graders who will miss out on their graduation ceremonies as their schools have been shut down. Amanda hopes this makes this otherwise difficult time easier in her neighborhood.