Eastern Iowans show each other they're not alone during difficult time

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Social distancing can be difficult and lonely, but on Wednesday, a few groups of eastern Iowans came together to show each other they’re not alone.

All the trucks at the Solon Fire Department turned their lights on for five minutes as part of a “Lights for Hope, Strength and Peace” project on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Mary Green/KCRG)

In Iowa City, horns blared as they came down a residential road, right up to the home of the Anderson family. It caused a commotion, but in the best way.

With each honk, 7-year-old Eli, 6-year-old Jaxson, and almost-2-year-old Isaac waved from their driveway alongside their parents, Brittany and Josh. Brittany had planned it as a way to celebrate Jaxson’s sixth birthday Wednesday. Because of social distancing, they’re delaying his Pokemon-themed birthday party until it’s safe for everyone to gather.

In the meantime, family, friends, and even strangers who saw Brittany’s post on Facebook about Jaxson’s “drive-by birthday party” stopped by, including a few Iowa City police officers. Some brought presents, and others brought handmade signs, but they all came to make sure Jaxson wasn’t celebrating alone.

“This may have topped their normal birthdays anyway!” Brittany said.

A few hours later, Greg Morris, a volunteer firefighter with the Solon Fire Department, illuminated that same message of community in his town.

At 7:00 p.m., all the trucks at the fire department turned their lights on for five minutes as part of a “Lights for Hope, Strength and Peace” project organized by Morris.

“We’re going to help each other, that we’re going to get through this, that we’re going to be stronger,” Morris said.

He said it was also a message of gratitude for the work of grocers, truck drivers, first responders and hospitals at this time.

“We know the folks at [the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics] are working hard to try to make our world better and try to get rid of this thing,” Morris said.

Morris posted information about the event earlier this week on Facebook, and his original post received more than 600 shares. In response Wednesday, fire departments from across Iowa and other parts of the country turned on the lights on their fire engines as a show of unity.

He’s also encouraging Iowans to turn on their porch lights each night at 7:00 p.m. as a way to tell each other they’re doing OK, even if they can’t see each other or say that face-to-face.

“We’re going to make it,” Morris said. “We’re going to make it.”