The messages are written in chalk on streets and sidewalks, words of gratitude and thanks.

And they're appearing here, in an online forum known as the Essential Heroes Project, all to say, thank you to the essential workers still on the job during the pandemic:

“I think it’s a way for children to express themselves, and kind of grasp an understanding of what’s going on,” said Alison Reilly of the Essential Heroes Project.

Staten Islanders Alison Reilly and Lindsey Rimassa are married to firefighters, have young children, and are friends.

Seeking an activity for their children after schooling at home each day is complicated. They searched for a project that would allow them to talk to their kids about the pandemic and teach them about expressing appreciation.

“Art is kind of universal. Everybody can understand it no matter how you, there are so many different ways we can, crayons, markers. Everybody can make it personal and make it their own and even the littlest ones can still do it,” said Reilly.

The Essential Heroes Facebook page now has more than 1,000 followers.

They also created an Instagram page, and invited friends, family and co-workers to work with their children in designing and submitting messages of thanks to first responders, hospital workers, grocery employees and anyone else still on the job.

“A lot of people are like oh essential workers, who is it really it could be a long laundry list of people. But it’s really all those people that are keeping the world running right now and risking their lives to be out there,” said Rimassa.

The idea has taken off so much that some elementary schools have even added it to their remote learning curriculum.

And it is growing. With an online gallery, no one has to leave the house to see it, and videos of the work submitted.

Reilly and Rimassa are encouraging anyone who wants to submit a picture to use the hashtag #EssentialHeroesProject.

Pictures can also be emailed to