Heart placements are
a nice spinoff of ‘flamingoing’
In the spring, realizing that the quarantine had become a long-term situation, the diaconate of Kensington Congregational Church (KCC) in Kensington, CT, began to discuss ways to connect with the congregation, especially their ’Friends in Need’ (members who are homebound or with health concerns). Cori Humes, a deacon at the church, offered the idea of creating ‘Caring Hearts’ to plant in people’s yards as a reminder that ‘You are Loved’. She thought the heart placements would be a nice spinoff of ‘flamingoing’ -- where flocks of pink plastic flamingos get planted by organizations as pranks, greetings and fundraisers.
The group created five sets of wooden hearts (three hearts in each set of varying sizes). According to Humes, the project was fairly easy to execute. A church member, Greg Benoit, cut out the hearts from leftover wood he had on hand and assembled them on stakes. Once primed, Humes painted the hearts red and lettered them using a black permanent marker. They estimate that 15 hearts could probably be made for $100 or less of purchased materials.
Cori and husband Brian, along with several other deacons, planted hearts at their designated locations for about a week at a time. (She believes a small group of perhaps 6-8 could easily rotate the task.) A postcard* explaining who they are from and their significance (as well as how/when they will be removed) is left at the door.
The church group has had only minor hiccups along the way. The ground has been rock hard this year so at times the hearts/stakes have needed repair. On one occasion a dog was in the yard; though it was not an issue, Humes thought she should caution others.
In addition to planting them at the homes of their ‘Friends in Need’ they also planted them at homes of folks with acute health issues (recovering from surgery), and folks at high risk and more strictly quarantined. Recently they began planting them at the homes of church leaders and church families in general. They plan to continue to plant them until the ground freezes. (Then they may consider planting them in snow, come winter.) About 40 homes have been touched so far.
Calls, handwritten notes, and texts/emails have been received from recipients who say the hearts made them smile, touched them, and brightened their week. Sue S., one of the church members who received the hearts said: “I had so much joy in my heart when I saw church folks coming into my yard. It still brings tears to my eyes as I think of it. Every morning I would wake up and look out and see the hearts and just feel a sense of warmth, companionship and love, knowing that my church was thinking of me.”
“This mission offers a connection, allows one to focus on others, and reminds us that each small act of kindness and love offers the chance to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Humes.
The traveling hearts are getting noticed in the community. Some recipients have mentioned that their neighbors have enjoyed seeing the hearts too; even the postal carrier commented to one recipient about seeing them in various yards.
“Jesus commanded his followers to be about the business of bringing in the realm of God through their daily actions and communal ministries,” said Rev. Laura Westby, Transitional Pastor at the Kensington church. “The Bible tells us that the Christian community's greatest witness is the love they demonstrate in concrete acts of compassion and care. The KCC hearts are one way that the congregation bears witness to God's love and their own.”
You can reach Cori Humes or Rev. Westby at the church office at (860) 828-4511 or email email@example.com.
*Here's a copy of the postcard: