Good Neighbors

With Ducks in a Row, A Neighbor Sends Messages of Hope

He had boxes of rubber duckies stored away from another event, and figured why not use them to bring messages of hope and cheer to the people around him.

Jim Preston works in the most unlikely of media: Rubber ducks.

Wanting to give his daughter a grand gesture as she graduated high school in 2017, he responded to a Craigslist ad and purchased 300 rubber ducks, retirees from a local "duck derby" fund raiser. Jim lined the roof of his house with the yellow toys as a salute to his daughter's acceptance to the University of Oregon, also known as The Ducks.

Neighbors give Jim suggestions for new words and phrases to create.Jim Preston

When the coronavirus pandemic sent people to the security of their homes, Jim wanted to give his neighbors a little hope. He retrieved his ducks from the attic and began writing daily messages with them in his front yard of his Menlo Park, CA, home. His first duck ditty: 1 Day @ a Time.

Jim refreshes the message each day with words and phrases suggested by neighborhood kids, who slip notes under his door mat or leave an idea on his answering machine.

Maintaining the duck message is a family affair. His kids are on call during the week, and his wife makes sure daily messages get posted to Next Door.

Creating, posting, and publicizing the day's message is a family affair.Jim Preston

The project, Jim says, is just one more way the Prestons "give back" to their community.

"We just want to make the world a little more fun every day," he says.

As joggers and dog walkers made their way down the street when I visited, it was clear Jim's army of rubber ducks was making social distancing just a little easier to endure.

A message for the joggers running past the Preston's house yes, but a message for us all during a tough time.Jim Preston

How can you start something good?

If you, for some reason, have hundreds of rubber ducks in a bin in your house, by all means borrow Jim's idea and decorate your yard to lift the spirits in your neighborhood.

If you don't have an army of bright yellow ducks, here are some other ideas. We've seen lots of homes in neighborhoods where the family -- or their friends -- have written inspirational messages on their driveways and sidewalks with sidewalk chalk. Other people whose windows are easily seen from the street post messages of encouragement or items, like teddy bears, that bring cheer. Whatever you do to bring hope to people who pass by will be make a difference!

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