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“Bear Hunt” underway in Union County

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ANNA (WSIL) -- Homes and businesses are putting stuffed animals in their windows, to give children something to do during the Covid-19 outbreak.

"I wanted to start it here for my kids, and I just thought a few people around our neighborhood would do it, so I put it on Facebook."

After hearing of communities finding ways to cope with social distancing, Jessi Watson thought she'd try the same for her kids in Anna.

"It kind of blew up into this big thing around the community, and everybody wanted to do it."

Rebecca Nesbit, who has children of her own, says it's been tough adjusting to life without school.

"Trying to find things to keep them connected within the community and educated has honestly been a lot more difficult than I imagined."

To help fight the indoor blues, both Watson and Nesbit worked together to get the community involved in something often called "bear hunting."

"Bear hunting is based on a book, and it is just going out and looking for bears in people's windows," explains Watson.

They say the goal is to get folks out of the house, while staying away from other people.

"I feel like getting out is huge right now, because they can't. So finding things that we can do and still be safe and healthy is huge," says Nesbit.

Watson says it's not just bears.

"And we also do safaris. If you don't have a stuffed bear, you can use any type of animal."

For some, Nesbit says a stuffed animal doesn't quite work.

"The Anna Vista, they actually did something really cool. You can't see bears, because it's a high rise, it's behind us here too. They put balloons on their balconies."

Watson says it's keeping the community connected, while everyone still manages to keep their distance.

"Everybody seems to love it, we've got nothing but positive feed back. We've got businesses that are putting up huge displays, and I couldn't be prouder of Anna-Jonesboro. It's been absolutely amazing."

Nesbit recommends spotting the stuffed animals from your car. You can let others in the community know where you've left bears, on their Stuffed Bear Hunt Facebook page.

John Ross

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