CHICAGO (CBS) — We may be isolating and social distancing, but that doesn’t have to stop generations from coming together, even when they are total strangers.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole shows us how it happened.

In simpler times, it’s a pleasant senior community in Arlington Heights. To protect residents from the coronavirus, visits from family and friends are restricted. So 96-year-old Gretchen Breit can’t even see the folks next door.

“I haven’t visited anybody,” Breit said. “I don’t get to see my neighbors anymore either. I feel badly about that because I like talking to them.”

But last week, by email, dozens of strangers reached out, to let them know they were not alone. Staff at the Moorings of Arlington Heights printed them out, mounted them on cards, and delivered them to overwhelmed residents.

“The amount of joys, the tears that I saw,” said Kara Atwood of the Moorings of Arlington Heights. “One little thing can make a huge difference for these people, and it made their entire day.”

Gretchen Breit was so happy with the unexpected gift.

“I thought it was tremendous. I thought it was great.”

The locked up campus at nearby Maine West High School gave rise to the effort, where students in virtual classes signed up to share pictures of their dogs, original art and a little bit of themselves.

“I felt like I had some connection to them, though I never met them,” said Michelle Rihani of Maine West.

“Everyone is in their own bubble worrying about what’s going on with them, but you have to realize there are other people also living here and also worried,” said Maine West student  Joshua Elavumkal. “I just wanted to make one of them happy, make one of them smile. That was my only goal.”

And judging from Gretechn’s smile, letter in hand, they succeeded.

“I thought it was great. It made me happy,” she said.

And now it’s our turn to follow their lead.

Vince Gerasole