People are decorating their windows with hearts and messages of hope right now

Josephine, 5, and Nora, 2, look out their rainbow heart-filled window in Michigan. Their mother, Jenna Webb, said she wanted to "bring love and joy to essential workers" in their neighborhood.

(CNN)Thousands of people are practicing social distancing worldwide and under stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of coronavirus, but that's not stopping neighbors from leaving messages of hope in the windows of their homes.

It's unclear where or when the effort started, but photos of people putting rainbows, colorful heart cutouts, teddy bears and anything that resembles a sign of hope have been spreading all over social media.
The motivation is simple and varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.
    Some are participating because they want their neighbors who have been deemed "essential workers" to see some joy on their way out of their homes. Others say they decorated their windows so families taking walks and getting fresh air have a nice reminder that everyone is in this together.

      'Spread the love, not the germs'

      Natasha James is the founder of just one of the many growing Facebook groups dedicated to this effort, Hearts in the Window. She told CNN her original intent was to bring people together and make an online community giving families an activity to do while walking in their neighborhoods. She was sent a copy paste message about hearts in windows and after participating she decided to open it up to see what social media would do.
      "Businesses have gotten involved, parents with children in the hospital, doctors, nurses and senior homes," she said.
        James said she wants people to be part of "spreading the love, not the germs."
        James' heart display filled the window at her home in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
        Another Facebook group called A World of Hearts is sharing a similar sentiment. Its founder, Tree Hanafy, told CNN she, too, wanted to share what she was doing to get involved.
        "I think it's definitely helped bring some happiness to people who may be isolated at home all by themselves," she said. "It's been wonderful to see all these people posting their photos and getting their families involved in it, too."
        Regardless of how people are finding out about this initiative, they're posting and participating. Here's who they're doing it for:

        For the neighborhood kids

        In Norfolk, Virginia, Kyle Siebels told CNN he found out about the effort through his neighborhood Facebook page. When the Siebels family went for a walk Tuesday, Kyle said he saw 30 houses participating. Monday, Kyle's wife, Tory, cut out the hearts and went to town on their front door.
        Nora Siebels stands outside her front door decked out in paper hearts in Norfolk, Virginia.
        "Our neighbors have started putting colored hearts in their windows for neighborhood kids to find on their walks while everyone is staying home," he wrote on Facebook. "We laced up our door so they wouldn't miss our circle. Pretty cool to see how many houses have participated. Nora (Kyle and Tory's daughter) definitely loves our walks."
        Kelsey Goldstein told CNN she was able to rally some of her neighbors in Atlanta to participate in a weekly theme for their windows. Last week, it was shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day.
        "It gives the parents something to do with their kids," Goldstein said. "It gets the kids excited about putting up their artwork for their friends to see and gives them something to do as they walk by. It really encouraged some sort of neighborhood collectiveness."
        This week, Goldstein said the neighborhood is displaying flowers, with rainbows and Easter eggs on deck for later.
        "It's nice to get out so you can see other people from afar and it makes you feel less alone," she said.
        Shamrock decorations fill the windows of homes in Goldstein's Atlanta neighborhood.