Photos by Melanie Sky, Michelle Rondeau and Meg Crane.

This year’s valentines project was a ridiculous success. Almost 1,800 cards were sent in for us to send to women’s shelters and more than 1,400 were sent out. Cards were offered to shelters across Canada in French and English, and they were sent everywhere from the west coast to the maritimes.

There were a few project superstars.

Michelle Rondeau, a little librarian with a huge heart at Shaftesbury High School, arranged for students at her school to make cards. She also donated a ridiculous amount of stamps and helped sort through them to come up with the exact amount of postage for each parcel. She also passed along the idea of making cards in schools to her pals in the Louis Riel School Division.

That division was a whole other level of superstar. About 20 schools made more than 1,500 cards in French and English. Unreal. Those cards filled four banker boxes with sparkling, supportive cards. Some kids even glued bubble wrap in their cards to give recipients an interactive experience.

We also had the support of artist JM Paterson, Brittany Paulhus, and musicians Daniel Guezen and Carey J. Buss. As always, Melanie Sky volunteered to photograph our card-making events and, Judy Wiebe, Nik Friesen-Hughes and Céline Land donated so much of their time. ❤

The response to this project was so heartwarming, it brought me to tears almost everyday. This world is full of kind people willing to help a person in need, and courageous people willing to take difficult steps towards a better future.

This year, there were a lot of bumps in the process of getting these cards out because of the unanticipated response. There were more than a few nights when I was up way too late, taping stamps to packages that had to go out ASAP. Next year, we’ll be prepared, with better guidelines and more requests for volunteers and donations.

Until then, if you want to support what we do, consider buying a subscription to Cockroach for yourself, a friend or a women’s shelter near you. The money goes towards printing the zine, paying contributors and running Stitching Hearts projects.

As one Louis Riel Division student wrote in a lovely card, “Stay weird!”