BAY AREA — Though the people of Coos Bay and North Bend are sheltering in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, windows are starting to fill up with paper hearts to show unity through the hardship.

These hearts are their way of telling each other, “You are not alone.”

The paper hearts are filling social media as well with #CBNBWaveOfLove, begun by North Bend Councilwoman Jessica Engelke and Coos Bay Councilman Carmen Matthews.

“When I became a city councilor, I wanted to collaborate with surrounding communities,” Engelke said and explained how she and Matthews were already working on tourism ideas to promote both cities when the pandemic struck the state. “We were inspired by something coming out of British Columbia where another community was sharing hearts in their windows. We thought we could do that, to spread the love and not the virus, but have a local twist.”

On Friday, Engelke worked with one of her daughters to create their own hearts and ended up putting a wave on theirs as a way to make the idea more local. She hopes others who do this will use the beach as inspiration when making these hearts, making this moment of community support centralized to the South Coast.

“This is just a way for everyone to show that we’re thinking about each other during this time,” she said. “It’s going to take a unified community to get through something like this.”

When she and her daughter made their own paper hearts, Engelke took a picture and posted it to Instagram with the hashtag. Within a few hours, she noticed it start to be replicated.

“When you’re driving by, or you look outside and see a neighbor with a heart in the window, it’s a way to send the message that we’re all on the same page and we’re going to get through this together,” Engelke said. “… It’s a way to show that you’re not alone.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or by email at worldnews1@countrymedia.net. Follow her on Twitter: @je_wardwriter.

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