On bikes with handwritten notes, ‘Ridgefield Stars’ spread kindness during COVID

RIDGEFIELD — An interview with Hearst Connecticut Media quickly turned into an impromptu group meeting for the members of the Ridgefield Stars, as they brainstormed even more ways they could help the community.

Barlow Mountain Elementary School students Ellie Genova, Maura Cooke, Maggie Murphy, Kate Fitzpatrick and Ella Morehouse have been spreading kindness during the pandemic. The girls have been friends since kindergarten and live on the same block.

Most days after school, they ride their bikes around the neighborhood doing good deeds for fellow residents, just to cheer them up.

“Some people have been feeling sad since it’s COVID and (they) can’t do things that they used to do,” Morehouse said. “(We’re) sending a kind wave so people are hopeful that COVID (will) end soon and everything will be much better.”

It was Fitzpatrick’s idea to name the group the Ridgefield Stars since there are five of them; each one represents one of the points on a star. Morehouse added that they each shine in their own special way.

Last fall, the group organized an apple cider stand to benefit the ROAR Donofrio Family Animal Shelter. They are planning a lemonade stand for spring break to support another charity.

In mid-February, the girls dropped off handwritten notes to their neighbors, each accompanied with a colored rock. The slips of paper contained salutations and well wishes, resident Greg Smith said, who noted that the Stars are “the heart of this community.”

Fitzpatrick said the group worked stealthily to complete the deliveries without getting caught.

“We were ding-dong ditching but (with) good notes, to cheer people up,” she said.

When a neighbor would see the Stars skirting away on their bikes, they also had a smile on their face, Cooke said.

“Only two people caught us,” she added.

As the interview continued, each Star offered up a new deed they could do to lift people’s spirits, such as painting positivity rocks to leave around the neighborhood, collecting supplies to donate to homeless shelters and taking pictures of their pets to include in a card.

Cooke said the girls have discussed formalizing the group as a club to invite other children to join.

“Even little things can turn into really big things,” Genova said. “You can inspire other people to do good things like you.”