PORTSMOUTH — Students at Clay Elementary had the opportunity to open their hearts to the world as they participated in Hearts Around the World.
Third-grade teacher Brenda Strickland started the project with her classes about six years ago, hoping to teach her students about the 50 states and how fast social media and communication can circulate across the country and the world.
“Each year, I do a project called, ‘Hearts Around The World’ to teach my students about the states in the USA and countries around the world,” Strickland said. “This has been a very successful project each year, receiving valentines and postcards from around the world.”
Despite a global pandemic, Strickland continued her project once again this year in hopes her class would receive Valentine’s Day cards and postcards from all 50 states and other countries.
“I wasn’t sure how it would work with the pandemic, but once again, it was successful,” Strickland said. “All 50 states and several countries mailed Valentines to our third graders this year. Our first Valentine for 2021 came from an orphanage in Iraq.”
Strickland shared the young lady who sent the Valentine made the valentine with what little she had and her act of kindness inspired Strickland’s students to collect art supplies for the children who have no supplies. Strickland said that this is her fifth or sixth year doing the project with the Hearts Across the World, but the first time the students felt the need to send materials to some kids in other countries that did not have the supplies they did.
Strickland has been teaching for seven years and said that she used to teach Social Studies, now she teaches Math and Science but still does the project with her classes.
“I was trying to find a way to make it more interesting and let the kids see how quickly things can spread through social media and other ways. It has a double meaning,” Strickland said. “We just asked for families to post this on Facebook or social media, to let families know about ‘Hearts Around the World’ to see if we could get Valentine’s from all the states, but then it was so big the one year, we had received from all 50 states and over 75 countries in the five years.”
Due to the pandemic, Strickland explained she wasn’t sure how the project would go. Uncertain if she could mail them or if her classes would be allowed to receive them.
“Our first one came from Iraq, which was from a girl in the orphanage there, I read it to the kids and they listened to what John had to tell our kids that this was all the materials that the little girl had to make the card and she was happy to send it to us,” Strickland said. “That is when one of the kids spoke up and said, ‘Can we give them some of our supplies?’ and I said let’s get them some new stuff.”
Strickland told her students she’d get them a box and that they could put in items they wanted to bring and she would make sure it got mailed out to them. She said that they just got the box of supplies the other day and the children in the orphanage will get them June 22.
Several of the students talked about the project and what it meant to them.
“I hope the kids like the art supplies. I also hope the kids will use their imaginations to be happy and escape for a while.” Sawyer Powell said, being the first one to bring supplies and bring a lot.
“I felt excited to give them supplies. I want to make them happy. Mrs. Strickland made this happen and I hope it helps the kids be happy.” Addie Fife said.
“As soon as I heard what was happening, I got as much supplies as I could together for the kids. It was so fun helping them get art supplies,” Kiera Hicks said. “I hope this helps the kids. I love helping others!”
“I got excited when Mrs. Strickland said that the art supplies made it to the orphanage. I wanted to give them supplies because I like to draw and color. I believe the kids will have fun with all the art supplies we gave them.” Addison France said.
“I am an artist, and I had some supplies to spare. I hope from the bottom of my heart they have a better future!” Nakari Dunn shared.
“I am so happy I got to give the orphanage some art supplies. I cannot imagine what it would feel like if my parents were gone,” Izzy Hannan said. “I decided to give to the kids that did not have parents or art supplies. Love and kindness I give you.”
When asked if she’d do it again for the orphanage, Strickland said that she thinks so because it was so heartfelt and so touching and the students let her see so much empathy coming from them that she would like to continue the Hearts…and giving to the children in the orphanage.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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