In the midst of chaos and uncertainty during this coronavirus pandemic, two Alexandria women are hoping to bring a little happiness and joy through painting, reading and bears, oh my!

Katie Satterlie of Alexandria was sent a cell phone screenshot of a Facebook page for Project Quarantine 2020 from a friend of hers who lives in another state.

Part of the project that was shown in the screenshot involved a bear hunt in which businesses and residents put stuffed animal bears in windows. Kids and their parents can go around town, either by walking or driving, and see how many bears they can find.

Satterlie immediately thought of her nieces and knew how much fun they would have. The bear hunt is based on the book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Micheal Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. After finding out the book was available at Target, Satterlie went right out and bought it.

She had a plan.

But before executing her plan, she put a message on the Helping Hands of Alexandria Facebook page asking if people would be interested in putting bears in their windows for kids to find. Within hours, she received an overwhelming response and the bear hunt project took off.

Satterlie took it one step further and put a video on the page in which she read the whole bear hunt book, and read off some of the areas where kids could find bears. She took it even further and started her own Facebook page, Ope, A Book with Katie, in which she will read stories for kids and post more about the bear hunt.

“I thought the bear hunt would be popular, but I just didn’t think it would be this popular,” she said, noting that within a couple days of posting, she knew of at least 100 bears that were put in windows around the area for kids to find.

Bears and hearts are displayed in the window of The Sugar Shack in downtown Alexandria. (Contributed)
Bears and hearts are displayed in the window of The Sugar Shack in downtown Alexandria. (Contributed)

She also said that some people have had to be creative because they don’t have any stuffed bears. Some people have put stuffed fish, hedgehogs and even bears made out of cardboard in their windows. She has seen pictures of bears in apartment buildings and businesses and many homes.

“I am hoping it gives people a positive thing to do,” she said. “Even if only two families do it, it’s worth it because it gives them one little thing they can do.”

With her new dedicated Facebook page, Satterlie will be reading stories twice a week with activities for families to do that will go along with the story. She is also hoping people will post pictures they find of bears and give general locations for kids and parents to find the bears.

Satterlie said she is very thankful for her mom, Julie Satterlie, who is helping her with this project.

A world of hearts

Artist Heather Rolin of Alexandria loves to paint. When she found herself at home, not being able to go to work or to school because of the pandemic, she turned to spending time on her phone. Too much time, she said.

Rolin realized she needed to do something and that something was paint. She asked her landlord if she could paint something on the glass doors and was told to go ahead. Rolin saw a group on Facebook, #aworldofhearts, where people are filling their windows with hearts or other art to show others everyone is in this together.

She also turned to the Helping Hands of Alexandria Facebook page, asking people if they had any surfaces for her to paint on. The requests started flooding in.

On Monday, March 23, she volunteered her time and painted for about three hours.

Since then, because of the number of requests, Rolin has enlisted the help of other artists, including Char Slack, Jade Deadrick and art students from Alexandria Technical and Community College.

With supplies at her feet, Heather Rolin paints a storefront in downtown Alexandria. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)
With supplies at her feet, Heather Rolin paints a storefront in downtown Alexandria. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

As of Tuesday, March 24, the artists had more than 50 painting projects to do around town with most projects being something simple like flowers, hearts, positive sayings and more.

“We are hoping to get to them all,” Rolin said.

By doing the paintings, Rolin hopes to spread a little joy, hope and positivity around town. She hopes it brings smiles to peoples’ faces.

She said all the artists are being safe and practicing social distancing when painting. They don’t touch any of the surfaces where they are painting with their hands, only their brushes. And they do not paint inside, only outside.

“We are being safe,” Rolin said. She knows this is only temporary, but because she loves to paint and be creative, painting for people is giving her an outlet and helping to keep her sanity in check.

“I needed something to do and this gave me that,” she said.

Alexandria artist Heather Rolin works on painting her flowers on the storefront of Creative Touch Boutique in downtown Alexandria. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)
Alexandria artist Heather Rolin works on painting her flowers on the storefront of Creative Touch Boutique in downtown Alexandria. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)