A Socially Distanced Celebration

Of the 1743 COVID related pictures I’ve taken so far, these are my favorite. This series is full of life, smiles, generosity, and excitement and I am ALL for it. ⠀
The story goes like this…⠀
Once upon a time, while the world was in the throes of uncertainty and change, a little girl was counting down the days to her seventh birthday. She could feel the change. No longer did she spent her days in the classroom with her friends, but rather, at home all day with her two elementary aged brothers. Her parents, a pharmacist and a nurse, were working hard on the front lines at our local Veterans Affairs Hospital. ⠀

Any other year, this little girl would have the biggest birthday party ever, thrown for her by her parents and family friends, but, this isn’t every other year. This is 2020- the year the coronavirus dropkicked the world into the unknown. ⠀

I myself, am a firm believer that beauty shines that much brighter amidst chaos. ⠀
These images tell the story of three neighbor kids who banned together and chose to celebrate life (the life of the little girl) in a season of sickness and death. They spent the entire afternoon painting signs, decorating the sidewalk, and preparing for the birthday surprise. ⠀

What happened to the little girl? Well, let’s just say her seventh birthday was one for the books. ⠀
These pictures (along with a cell phone video of the surprise) were sent around the world to friends and family in quarantine in Ghana and London so that they too could participate in the celebration. ⠀
Friends, take a look around you and try to find some the beauty in the chaos of your life. Celebrate the good.


Carly C’s COVID Outreach + Fayetteville, NC

Billy Castle (frame no. 1) has been working as the Regional Director of Sales for Carly C’s Grocery for nearly a decade. He remembers hurricanes, mass school shootings, terrorist attacks that shaped history, mysterious plane disappearances, wildfires that wiped out millions of acres of land, and earthquakes that devastated one of the world’s poorest countries.

Even still, Billy Castle vows that he’s never seen a crisis as monumental as COVID-19. He calls it “the crisis that made the globe stop spinning”. Each and everyday he watches thousands of people come in and out of his Fayetteville grocery stores. Many are terrified and desperate, while others remain noncommittal and willfully ignorant of the virus that is rocking our world.
And yet, Castle is a positive man. Dedicated, bright, and committed, he holds fast to his values of southern hospitality and “hometown pride”. 

He knows that in a time of uncharacteristic uncertainty- his store, employees, and services can be a constant in a sea of turmoil. All around Fayetteville Billy Castle and his staff were seeing shortages of poultry. Grocery stores were limiting access to their meat products thus amplifying the stress and desperation of their customers. Castle knew this had to change. He reached out to the House of Raeford Farm which is based out of Rose Hill, North Carolina and asked them to host their “truckload chicken sales” in front of his stores. His goal? To get his customers access to high quality chicken even if it wasn’t coming from inside his stores. Each refrigerated semi is stocked with 3,000 10 lb boxes of (non-GMO) farm fresh chicken which easily sell out in an afternoon’s time. 


SPC Bueno Homecoming + Fort Bragg, NC

Sometimes, there are no words to express the feelings inside of us. Excitement? Nervousness? Hesitation? 

A Wounded Warrior/Purple Heart recipient’s homecoming is one that encompasses all these emotions and more. How do you put words to an experience that is truly indescribable? One thing is for sure, I am so honored to have contributed and captured a small part of this hero’s return from war. Welcome home SPC Bueno!

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