What started as a group of friends looking for a little virtual camaraderie amid the COVID-19 crisis has mushroomed into a Facebook group with more than 75,000 members, many of them posting daily.
Sean O’Leary of North Patchogue, who works in transport and delivery, said the response to the 8 O’Clock Shot group has been both inspiring and heartwarming.
Come every day around 8 p.m., the group receives hundreds, sometimes thousands, of posts to the page, from people doing a shot, to videos and memes.
Now deeper into the crisis than three weeks ago, many posters are asking for prayers for someone who’s fallen ill, or even raising a glass to a lost loved one.
“Those are the types of post that really touch me personally,” O’Leary told GreaterPatchogue on Monday. “It really touches to the spirit of why I started this thing.”
The group got rolling three weeks ago, on March 23, on O’Leary’s personal Facebook page. The concept to do a communal shot at 8 p.m. each day while quarantined proved to be so popular, he then quickly pivoted and started the Facebook group.
He then invited seven friends to help manage it.
Among them was Ethan Meyer, a local photographer and graphic artist.
“When Sean approached me about helping with the group I knew I had to join,” Meyer said. “It had potential to help people in need right now. People need to live as close to a regular life as they can, and this is the venue to do so.”
The group is also now selling Drink Wear apparel, while still trying to figure out where best to direct proceeds to help out people in need.
But O’Leary says the ultimate goal is to help one another “to the finish line” through a sense of community and togetherness while isolated.
“People are social people,” he said. “You can’t stop us.”
Click here for the group’s top-performing post.