10 years of touching hearts
by Amanda Clark, adult programming supervisor
Happy New Year! While I love the idea of a new year and new beginnings, the change to a new calendar also makes me a little sad. The Christmas season, for the most part, highlights giving and altruism. The turn of a new year, seems to me, just the opposite. I have unofficially named the day after Christmas, “The Most Depressing Day of the Year.” We spend a great deal of time, effort, and emotion getting ready for Christmas and, just like that, it’s over. All too quickly, everyone makes resolutions to get thinner, smarter, stronger, and (insert your own “er”). The warm-fuzzy feeling of Christmas giving suddenly becomes all about me, me, and me, only better. Thankfully, Boyd County Public Library has found a way to extend that spirit of giving just a little longer.
In 2005, BCPL started a campaign called “Hands that Touch a Heart.” It was created to put a Valentine in the hands of someone who may not have otherwise gotten one. In the early years of the campaign, BCPL distributed handmade Valentines to residents of local nursing homes. Within a few years, the Valentines made by children at the library outnumbered local nursing home residents, so we also began sending the cards to soldiers serving overseas. As the program celebrates its 10th anniversary this year (from Jan. 6 through Feb. 7), we are proud to say that you have helped us make and send a total of 14,430 Valentines! Thank you.
Hands that Touch a Heart is one of my favorite programs. I think I enjoy it because of its simplicity. BCPL supplies a template and supplies at all three branches. The card maker (young and old are welcome to help) traces his or her hand, decorates the card and adds a message. The Library collects the cards and makes sure they get distributed. Since I am responsible for distributing the Valentines, I get the pleasure of seeing first-hand how far a little kindness from a stranger goes. I love going to the nursing homes and seeing smiles on the faces of the residents when I deliver their Valentines. Some of the larger nursing homes put the Valentines on the residents’ lunch trays. While I’m not there to witness it, I’m sure the cards are a happy surprise for the residents and that makes me smile.
Another important aspect of the program is what we send to soldiers overseas. Last year, BCPL sent almost 1,300 Valentines to soldiers from Kentucky units serving in Afghanistan, with help from anysoldier.com. The website allows units to register and list their needs. Users, like BCPL, choose a unit and request its address. We have used this service for several years and it works well to make sure our Valentines get where they need to be.
I send each unit a letter explaining the program and enough Valentines to ensure everyone gets their own. Many unit leaders write or email a thank you. Some even send photos of their Valentines on display. One soldier who wrote me said, “Thank you very much. Your cards lifted the spirits and morale of my soldiers and others. Thank you for your kindness, thoughts and prayers. Things like this help us remember why we do this job.”
To those of you who have helped create the 14,430 Valentines BCPL has distributed in the last nine years, those words of appreciation are for you. I hope you will participate again this year. Schools, church groups and clubs are a tremendous help to the project. We have several families who request templates as a family project. Templates and supplies will be available at all locations from Jan. 6 to Feb. 7. If your family or group would like templates, please contact me: email@example.com or 606.329.0518, x 1140.