Jenna Pittman hopes the recipient of her handmade valentines feels a little encouragement.
Sarah Norman hopes her cute Valentine’s Day puns offer some sunlight.
“I just hope it brings a smile to someone’s face, especially if they’re struggling,” Sarah explains.
The two 12-year-olds are among a group of Project Kindness volunteers who have undertaken a Valentine’s Day initiative: making and delivering handmade valentines to people who could perhaps use a reminder of how much they’re appreciated.
Last year the project proved extremely successful, with about 2,000 cards packaged with treats and delivered to people staying in seniors’ residences, care homes and shelters in the St. John’s area. Individual volunteers, businesses, Brownie groups and schools joined in, making the cards, putting together the treat packages and delivering them.
“Valentine’s Day is focused on a very small part of the population: people who are coupled,” says Hasan Hai.
You might recognize Hai as the head MerB’y — a school of bearded merman who produce and sell whimsical calendars to raise money for various charities — but he’s also the founder of Project Kindness.
The goal of that organization is self-explanatory. Volunteers undertake different projects throughout the year to help others, from winter care kits for those staying in homeless shelters to turkey dinner deliveries on Thanksgiving to those celebrating alone.
“The goal is to let people know, whatever isolation they might be feeling, their community is here to connect with and support them,” Hai says of the valentines project. “I would love for them to know they matter, and someone in the universe and in their community is thinking of them without even knowing who they are, and with no expectations.”
Project Kindness is accepting donations of valentines and treats, which can be dropped off in the metro area at all Coffee Matters locations, Mochanopoly Board Game Café, Mount Pearl Summit Centre, Easter Seals NL, Posie Row, the St. John’s Farmers’ Market and Chudworth Technology Solutions. In Labrador, cards can be brought to the Them Days magazine office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
The cards don’t have to be fancy, Hai says.
“We’ve had some that are works of art, but some that are a piece of paper folded with stickers on it. They’re all lovely cards. It’s the meaning behind them that’s important.”
Wording on the valentines must be appropriate for a range of people and quite generic, he explains.
“Something that lets them know they are loved, that they’re special, that they matter,” he says.
Jenna and Sarah favour cute animals and little jokes.
“I just say something like, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, you are loved,’” Jenna says. “I hope when they get my cards, they feel happy and feel good about themselves.”
Project Kindness will hold a card-making session for anyone interested in contributing valentines this Sunday in the community room at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market from 12-4 p.m. More details can be found on the Project Kindness Facebook page.