HOLDREGE — Holdrege business owners, teachers and residents have been receiving notes of hope during this time of uncertainty.

Letters of encouragement have appeared taped to their windows from a person who signs the letter “Candle in the Window.” The person, who wishes to remain anonymous, thought of the idea two weeks ago when quarantines and shutdowns because of the coronavirus became a reality in the United States.

She was out for a drive thinking of ways to help when the idea popped in her head.

“I know small businesses are really struggling right now because I know no one can get out and shop or whatever. I loved the idea of going around at night and taping notes on their windows,” she explained.

She wanted to be able to know when the recipients received her notes, so she decided to create an Instagram page where they could tag her in photos when they received the letters. When she was trying to think of a name for her page, she thought about candles being placed in windows. She began researching the idea and realized how appropriate it was at this time.

“ (A candle in the window) dates back to Colonial times. Houses were really far apart back then. If someone put a candle in their window, that meant to a traveler walking by they had a safe place to stay in that home,” she said. “It was a symbol of home and warmth and safety and community.”

The first night, she put 10 letters on the windows of local businesses in Holdrege.

Stephanie Klein, the owner of Stephanie’s, received one of those letters.

“I was very surprised because I hadn’t seen anything about it yet. It was wonderful and I kept it. It was just a cool thing,” Klein said.

When Klein received the letter, she just had made the difficult decision to temporarily close her boutique on March 21.

“Just the thought that someone took the time and walked these around. ... It feels like you’re pulling together as a community and as a people,” Klein said.

Stephanie’s is operating through its website — stephaniesbeinspired.com. Local customers may order items and opt to pick them up on Klein’s front porch on Friday afternoons.

After first putting notes in windows, the letter writer decided to give some encouragement to educators, parents and health care providers. She has sent letters to hospitals in Nebraska, Washington, California, Colorado, New York and Florida.

Holdrege resident Heather McQuillan and her family received a note on their window at their house. The letter provided encouragement to Heather and her husband, Chris, who are parents of three young children.

“When I saw it, I was surprised to find a note on our door early in the morning. When I read it, it made me smile and feel connected to our community as it reminded me we are all in this together while facing our individual fears and potential hardships,” McQuillan said.

McQuillan said her kids are missing school, their friends and teachers, but they are trying to make the most of the opportunity to slow down during this time.

The creator of Candle in the Window has plans to reach out to local churches and nursing homes, and she hopes others will find their own ways to give back.

“This started as just an idea and the things that I had at home, which were plain white notecards, pens and tape. It’s turned into this cool thing. I want to encourage people to use what they have in their hands and multiply it and use it for good,” she said.

ashley.bebensee@kearneyhub.com