The Oakes family – Brittani, Jeremy and their six children ages 4-13 – are all ‘doing their part.’
A family COVID-19 awareness project that started on the weekend, each night they have been standing on the Broadway sidewalk in front of their Tillsonburg home – and safely backing up into the driveway whenever pedestrians walk by – to show support and appreciation for frontline workers with their homemade signs.
“We’re thanking them because they’re awesome,” said one of the young Oakes.
Some of the signs, which they have been displaying 7:30-8 p.m. rain or shine, encourage people to ‘do your part – stay home’ and ‘flatten the curve,’ and ‘thank you for doing your part.’
They have all bought in to the cause, said Jeremy.
“We’re all together. They just wanted to do what they can, show some support. We’re all kind of stuck at home and there’s not much we can do about it.”
“We just want everyone to stay home!” said Brittani, noting they normally visit her mother daily – and they haven’t seen her in almost three weeks. “It’s hard for us, but…”
“‘So go home,” said one of the children, speaking to people in Tillsonburg.
“And stay home,” another added.
Traffic was relatively light Wednesday night, but many cars and trucks were showing their support by honking or flashing emergency-vehicle lights.
“The first time we saw an unmarked car, we didn’t even know it until it flashed the lights,” said Jeremy. “Lots of people honking – and every emergency vehicle has turned their lights on for us, police and ambulance. We had a lady drive by tonight wearing a nurse scrub shirt who yelled ‘thank you’ at us and gave us a wave. So we’ve seen a lot of positive response. We’ve seen our share of negative too, but we’ve definitely seen more positive responses.”
The family has been homebound since schools closed in March.
“Honestly, me and my oldest are the only ones who have left the house in the last two weeks to do the essential shopping and stuff,” said Jeremy. “The rest of the kids, and Brittani, have been here – only here and in the back yard.”
The Oakes stress hand-and-face washing every time they come back into the house – all doing their part.
“We’re do everything we can…” added Jeremy as another OPP cruiser drove by. “And when people walk by, we back up. We don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable. Just read the signs on your way by and ‘have a good night.'”
The family plans to continue their quest to flatten the curve and thank frontline workers indefinitely.
“We don’t really know, everything is kind of ‘by ear’ these days. As long as there’s no cure and things aren’t getting better, we’re going to keep doing what we can to spread the message. We’re just kind of winging it day by day.
“It’s whole lot of new for everybody. And honestly, for six kids, they have been unbelievable. I thought it was going to be hell, but they have been incredible. It’s been really good,” he summed up, adding with a laugh, “Surprisingly good, honestly.”