COVID Stories

Communal support in COVID times

By: Shruti Vadada, Herricks High School and
Rena Max, Hebrew Academy of Nassau County High School

Drive-by event organizers and online student-run organizations have taken a lead in bringing positivity and moral support to communities in Long Island, New York, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A drive-by event is a gathering of friends and family passing by someone’s home in cars while honking and cheering and is an effort to maintain social distancing while still celebrating.

Olivia Francisco, a 17-year-old in Setauket, has attended four drive-by birthday events and has planned one for her friend, Kelsi Lewis.

Drive-by events have become a way of celebrating moments that might have otherwise gone unnoticed amid the coronavirus pandemic. CREDIT: Kelsi Lewis

“We’re in such unprecedented times right now, so I wanted to plan this because I still wanted a safe way to celebrate,” Francisco said. 

She found that helping others through this difficult time was truly satisfying.

“Seeing their face, you can tell you made them happy on their special day,” she said. “I guess you could say it’s fulfilling.”

Many local organizations on Long Island are reaching out to people during the pandemic in the same way Francisco is. Among them is Strong Island Car Parades 4 Kids, which gathers exotic vehicles to join in on the birthday cheer.

Courtney Carbone, a resident of Seaford, Long Island, experienced the positive impact of Strong Island Car Parades 4 Kids firsthand when they offered to do an event for her cousin Ryan Haskell, a 19-year-old with special needs, outside his home in Wantagh, Long Island. Haskell loves Santa Claus, so the group arranged for a Santa theme with nine Santas, the Grinch, and Mrs. Claus all in attendance. 

“Ryan’s face, like, his jaw dropped. He was not expecting any of that,” Carbone said. “It was like the greatest day of his life.” 

Carbone subsequently joined the Facebook group for Strong Island Car Parades 4 Kids and was impressed by how many parades they organized. Most of these people in the group were strangers, and yet they chose to drive around to these birthday celebrations. Some of them even brought gifts.

“They’re just going out of their way to be extremely kind and bring some type of light to how scary this all has been,” Carbone said.

Student-run organizations on social media are also helping people cope with the pandemic. 

“Quarantine has opened up a lot of free time to write and get inspired,” said Sneha Singhi, a junior at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, Long Island, and co-founder of Young Poets Unite, which showcases poems written by teenagers.

Another student-run organization mainly showcased on Instagram, Living 6 Feet Apart, aims to spread positivity and share stories during quarantine.

“I wanted to step up and form a supportive environment for others who may have gone through similar situations,” said Allison Park, a junior at Herricks and co-founder of Living 6 Feet Apart. 

“I helped to start this organization to spread awareness, and help people feel less alone during these dark times.”

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