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April 4, 2013

Hearts of hope crafted to help people cope

More than 2,000 brightly painted hearts, each containing a message of hope, have been delivered to the grieving community of Newtown, Conn.

The hearts, many painted by Cooperstown residents, include brightly painted words of hope, peace and promise. Some are intricately patterned designs and others feature paintings of flowers, birds or stars. The first delivery of 1,000 hearts was received by Newtown residents on Valentine’s Day. A second gift of another 1,000 hearts was delivered on April 1.

Hearts of Hope, an outreach program, coordinated by Judith Pedersen, is a craft project that includes a kiln-fires heart, a gift bag and a card with room for a message from the artist. Each heart is to be individually painted and sent back to Pedersen — who will send the hearts to the recipients.

“This is something, that as a community, it is manageable and portable,” Pedersen said. “Everyone has known someone who has been impacted by this kind of grief. We have all been there at some level.”

The hearts are painted by community groups, including various church and library groups, Girl Scouts and Leos, a junior Lions Club organization. Many of the hearts bound for Newtown were painted by area residents, State University of New York students, Macy’s employees and those who work for New York Life Insurance Company.

“It is really therapeutic for me,” said Emmy Dolan, 15, of Cooperstown, who is the committee chairwoman for the Leo group of high school students. “The first time I did this was for Pathfinder Village. When they opened the hearts – to see their faces light up - it was just really sweet.”

Any group may order the Hearts of Hope kits. The kit includes an unpainted, fired heart wrapped to prevent breaking, instructions, a gift bag, a registry and a card upon which the giver may write a note. The kits are $3 per heart – which includes the kit and return postage.

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