Heartfelt project gets under way locally
WORTHINGTON -- While Valentine's Day is typically viewed as a day for romance, there are many kinds of love that can be expressed on the holiday.
That's the premise behind a local effort to create handmade valentines for residents of area nursing homes and care facilities.
"I heard about the idea first from a Christian radio station down South," explained Amy Teerink, lead organizer of effort. "At first I thought I'd make some and send them there, but then I decided it made more sense to do it locally."
Teerink talked to a few friends, who were enthusiastic about the idea, and she received more encouragement after creating a Facebook page that she dubbed The Valentine Factory.
"Within a day after I put it on Facebook, we had amazing response," she said.
Valentine's Day -- Feb. 14 -- was originally a feast day to honor an early Christian martyr, although the lore about St. Valentine has been romanticized and embellished over the decades and does not have historical basis.
The day took on a romantic overtone during the Middle Ages, when the idea of courtly love flourished.
"I love Valentine's Day, love everything about it," said Teerink. "But it's not just a holiday for romance -- it's for all kinds of love. Who better to love than people who are sometimes forgotten? We look at it like being Jesus to our community. It's true giving because we expect nothing in return -- giving with no strings attached.
"I think everyone's felt a little lonely at Valentine's Day at one time or another," she added. "This is a way to turn it outside of ourselves and bring unity to our community."
Before proceeding with the project, Teerink checked with several area nursing homes to make sure they were receptive to the idea. Then she began spreading the word.
Teerink has already received a few valentines and commitments to make more, not only from local crafters, but from people as far away as Canada who saw The Valentine Factory page.
"My aunt is a teacher, and she's going to have her students make them, although I encouraged her to do it for their own community, too," she said. "We think it would be cool to see the idea grow in different communities."
Valentines of all shapes and sizes will be accepted, although Teerink stresses that they need to be handmade, not purchased. The designs can be as simple or as elaborate as the creator wants to make them.
"It's something easy that every single person can do," she said. "It doesn't really matter what it looks like. It's the heart behind it. It's about serving."
Teerink envisions individuals, families, classes, clubs and other organizations getting together to make valentines as a group, further enhancing the community aspect of the effort.
"I think our church, Grace Community, is going to have a little party to make some," she said. "We would encourage people to get together, make it fun, maybe with kids have a play date and go wild."
The Valentines should be signed, but envelopes left unsealed. The cards can be dropped off at Schafer's Health Center, 207 10th St., Worthington, where Teerink is employed.
Deadline to ensure delivery of the cards is Feb. 8.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at