In a few short days, the world has become a very different place. A couple of weeks ago shops and restaurants were bustling, children were busy with school work and older students were making plans for their graduation celebrations.

That has all come to a screeching halt with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis is devastating for all of those who have been impacted. It’s also completely altered daily life around the globe.

Now, shops are shuttered with restaurants are confined to to-go orders. Children are taking lessons online while the class of 2020 may have to celebrate the milestone with family alone rather than with classmates.

Naturally, parents are looking for opportunities to provide some sense of relief and normalcy for students. And leave it to the residents of SoGlo to find a creative way to do just that.

Over the past few days, stuffed animals have started to pop up in windows around the downtown neighborhoods. A zebra here, a tiger there — slowly but surely — they’ve started to peek out of homes. And they’re there for a simple reason — to delight children and their families out on walks.

It’s something that makes SoGlo resident Laura Ginn smile. She was the one who started rallying the troops on a shared community page a while back.

“I was just an idea I threw out there on the SoGlo Community (online) page because I saw my friends’ neighborhood do it. It seemed like a great way to have a little neighborhood fun and help parents who are now teaching their kids at home,” Ginn said. “It isn’t a group activity or meet up, just a way to have families break up their day while home.”

It provides a teaching opportunity, she adds, as much as a way to add some levity to a scary situation.

“It covered a large age group because you can cover counting, colors, animal names or have your child research info on the animals they saw. It also allowed those who are not leaving their homes to participate by putting an animal or two in their window,” Ginn said.

Karen Mumford and her little ones have joined the cause. She says her kids have had a lot of fun selecting toys to showcase to the community.

“My daughter, Katie, wants to be a veterinarian and has all sorts of really cool and different stuffed animals. She has enjoyed putting them on display and researching,” Mumford said.

Ed Hose has also enjoyed seeing the animals pop up. The Brunswick artist and downtown resident says its offered a way to connect in a crazy world.

“Laura introduced this idea to (an online) community group, I think all of us that read it felt immediately connected to the idea. Our world is in chaos, a few weeks ago I’m not sure we all would have clung to this idea, but today, any way that we can connect and interact with each other feels important,” she said.

“Putting some animals in our windows is something we can control. It lets us create a magical imagination fueled world for our young, it connects us with our neighbors and it’s a sweet loving gesture.”

Hose feels like it allows community members to offer support for one another from a distance.

“Putting a stuffed animal in your window doesn’t seem like much but it says ‘Hey, I’m in here, I’m doing my part, I’m staying at home isolating, but we are not at all alone, and I see you too, I care about your happiness,’” she said.

“Yes, it’s a virtual safari, it’s a cute thing to do, but it’s also a very physical whimsical.”

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In a few short days, the world has become a very different place. A couple of weeks ago shops and restaurants were bustling, children were busy with school work and older students were making plans for their graduation celebrations.