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West Orange Times & Observer Saturday, Jun. 25, 2016 3 years ago

Winter Garden siblings spread love with felt hearts after Pulse shooting

Following the Pulse shooting, the Salisbury siblings created felt hearts to spread love in Orange County.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

WINTER GARDEN  Spreading love has become a prominent theme throughout Orlando in the week following the June 12 Pulse Orlando massacre, but three children from Winter Garden took a unique approach to touch hearts in the midst of it all.

When the Salisbury siblings — Gavin, 11; Victoria, 10; and Jacquelyn, 7 — heard of the shooting, they were saddened and immediately wanted to find something they could do to help others. The first thing that popped into their minds was crafty: They wanted to spread the love by making hearts out of felt.

“The first thing the kids said was, ‘I wish we had money to give people,’ and we had a conversation about serving people in other ways,” said Amanda Salisbury, their mother. “They took a sewing class at (Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts) last summer and learned how to hand stitch, so they thought of sewing felt hearts.” 

The kids originally had a goal of making 50 hearts, but they surpassed that easily and then increased their goal to 100. Now, with the help of friends and neighbors, the kids have made more than 500 hearts and stopped by local businesses and neighbors’ houses to deliver the handmade tokens of love. They are even mailing out hearts to people around the country — from as far away as New York City — who have asked for them. 

“We did this because we knew a lot of people were sad, and we and were thinking about what we could do to help other people,” Victoria said.

In hopes of helping broken hearts heal, Jacquelyn added the trio was happy to have the chance to spread a little love to everyone who needed it.

“I know people are feeling really sad right now so I thought we could make hearts for them to feel better, to help them feel happy and to share Orlando’s love,” she said.

One of the original felt hearts.

The kids started making the hearts by using a cardboard heart template to trace the heart shapes on pieces of felt, which they then cut out themselves. They decided to mismatch felt colors to make each heart unique, just like each person.

The family even went back to Jo-Ann last week and found the woman who taught them to stitch. They gave a heart to her and told her what an impact it had.

The finishing touch is a piece of ribbon, which serves as a way to hang the hearts on doors, windows or wherever the recipient chooses to display them. The kids also created tags with their own, self-designed logo — three small hearts growing out of a planter box labeled “Love.” 

Each tag includes the hashtags “#HangAHeart,” “#LoveIsLove” and “ChildrenMakingADifferenceWithLove,” all of which encourage recipients not only to display the heart but also to share the love via social media.

“They have amazed me, and this started last Monday,” Amanda said. “We don’t take any money; we don’t want any money. This isn’t religious or political; it’s just love. As a parent, I couldn’t thank them any more for allowing my children to see these people moved by what they did — that is something they’ll never forget.”


Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].

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