23rd April 2021
Acts of kindness and compassion do not need to be huge. Sometimes, people are afraid to act because they fear their contribution won’t be enough to make a difference. But it only takes a small thing to make an enormous impact in the life of someone in need. This is what counsellor and stitcher Sarah de Jong realised when she first conceived of the 1000 Hearts project.
Sarah had spent many years working in non-profit organisations, including Lifeline and the Cancer Council in Tasmania, Australia.
Through her work, Sarah has seen much despair and heartbreak, however she has also come to realise that a tiny act of kindness can make a huge difference to a person who is hurting.
Sarah started making tiny felt ‘pocket hearts’ which were stitched with love and good intentions. Her plan was to hand them to people in crisis to offer them kindness, compassion and love at the time they needed it most.
She hand-stitched 1000 hearts on her own, then gave them to volunteers who passed them on to people who they felt needed them most. It didn’t take long before the volunteers were asking for more, and very soon a community of stitchers grew, all of whom were making pocket hearts to hand out.
Hearts stitched by Michelle from Tasmania (source)
One might think that a tiny felt heart couldn’t achieve much, however symbols mean more than we realise in our society, and these little hearts are strong symbols of courage, hope, comfort and support. The fact that each one is made by hand rather than manufactured in a factory, and that each and every one of them is unique, infuses the symbol with even more importance. There is a wonderful connection which exists between the person making the heart and the person receiving it – something that doesn’t arise in a mass-produced item.
Hearts stitched by Maureen from NSW (source)
When you look at the gallery on the 1000 Hearts website, you can see that the hearts come in all colours, some with embroidered embellishments, others just plain. But each one is made with love and care by a ‘heartist’ who has given up their time to make a difference to a stranger who they will probably never meet.
Sarah says: ‘I have sent hearts to people impacted by the Orlando nightclub shooting, the bombing in Manchester and the Grenfell Tower inferno in London.’ They have also gone to charities, services and even individuals who just need a bit of love.
Hearts stitched by Nanna Janice from WA (source)
To date, the organisation has now handed out over 8000 hearts to people all over the world.
That means 8000 days have been that little bit brighter; 8000 smiles may have come out of tears; and 8000 lives have been touched. All because one woman decided that any tiny effort was worthwhile.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Sarah de Jong and the 1000 Hearts project, you can take a look at her website or Facebook page to see the work she’s been doing. There you can find information about how to get involved and become a ‘heartist’, including downloading the pattern template so you can start making your own hearts.
Sarah De Jong’s bunny, Remy, holding a little bag of pocket hearts (source)
You can also get inspiration from the stories and the photos on the website, which introduce you to the people who have offered their time to get involved.
Sometimes we forget that it’s the little things that make all the difference. Perhaps you can think of a time in your own life when a tiny heart from a stranger would have made things seems a little bit better. We’re grateful to people like Sarah who have understood that, and made it happen.
Thank you to Prue Batten for bringing Sarah and her fantastic organisation to our attention.