Rutland also is feeling anxious about the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, but Reese Stoutes, a local 7-year-old, is using color and light to spread hope instead.
For about two weeks, Reese, a second-grader at Northeast Primary, has been hand-drawing rainbows and giving them to friends and neighbors to hang in their windows.
Reese said she “wanted to spread happiness.”
“Everybody was sad ‘cause they didn’t get to see their friends and I just thought making rainbows would make everyone better,” she said.
Reese said she uses crayons and markers to make a rainbow. She estimated it takes about 15 minutes to complete.
“I love doing it,” she said.
The best part is seeing people when she gives them rainbows, she added.
Reese gave the rainbows away but asked people to hang them in their windows so everyone could see them.
Asked what she hears from people who have gotten her colorful gifts, Reese said, “They said, ‘I love it. We’ll hang it in our door right away.’ ‘It makes us smile,’” she said.
Reese’s mother, Summer Stoutes, said her daughter had made about 60 rainbows.
Summer Stoutes, who teaches second grade at Northeast Primary School, said she was outside on Monday and so two people, who were observing social distancing, walking by. One asked Summer Stoutes if she knew the source of all the rainbows she saw in the neighborhood.
After explaining her daughter creates the rainbows, Summer Stoutes asked her daughter to come outside to join them The woman said she brings friends, on their socially distanced walks, to the Stoutes’ neighborhood so everyone can see Reese’s work.
Reese gave the woman a rainbow.
“She was really happy,” Summer Stoutes said.
Rutlanders have even reached out to Summer Stoutes through social media and asked for rainbows. She said Reese doesn’t mind because she intends to keep making rainbows and delivering her art to neighbors in need of some color.
She said she and her husband, Mark Stoutes, had always tried to teach their daughters, Reese and Grace, 15, to be kind and help other people.
“It’s something I think is really important and have tried to instill in both of my girls. Reese has really grabbed onto that. I feel like that’s the way she is in her life every day. She really is very kind and has a big heart and she really likes to help people,” Summer Stoutes said.
Like other kids her age, Reese is spending more time than usual at home now. She said she’s filling the time with the rainbows but also by doing schoolwork and writing stories that she reads to her parents or her sister and sometimes with her teacher, Marie Marallo.
Reese said on Tuesday she was writing a story about her grandmother.
“Reese is a happy go lucky spirit who loves everything about life,” Marallo said by email. “She is always thinking about others — her empathy is limitless. Reese has true kindness at heart. When she made my rainbow she could not wait to bring it to me. She had her mom drive her to my house in a snowstorm — that’s Reese.”
Reese said she “might be a lifeguard” but she’s also thought about being an art teacher.
Summer Stoutes, who has taught in Rutland City Schools will be moving on to Rutland Intermediate School for the 2020-21 school year, said she and Reese have been taking long walks in their neighborhood with their dog, Ellie, on days when the weather is pleasant. She said they see rainbows “all over” and usually bring some rainbows they can give away.
“I’m very proud of (Reese.) She’s a sweet girl,” she said.