They spring from winter tree branches, shop doorways, and newspaper stands, hundreds of bright red hearts dangling in the breeze as passersby stop to admire the unique scene.
These lovely hearts are part of a very special annual tradition at the Waldorf School of Bend, known as our Valentine’s Day “Heart Bomb” campaign. Every year on February 14th, we blanket downtown Bend with hundreds of beautifully crafted handmade hearts, each one lovingly cut, stitched, stuffed with wool, and embroidered with heartfelt messages of love.
As we say in the Waldorf world, “many hands make light work,” and this certainly holds true for our Heart Bomb event. From preparing take-home heart-making kits to rising at dawn to hang the hearts, it takes many volunteers numerous hours to decorate the sidewalks and doorways of our beloved downtown commercial district with these sweet messages of beauty and love.
While the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic prevented our teachers and parents from meeting in person to craft hearts together like they normally do, we were able to resiliently shift to virtual heart-making tutorials on ZOOM and contactless door-drop deliveries of red felt, sewing needles, wool roving, and embroidery thread supplies. Safety is very important to our school, and we were glad to find workaround solutions for everyone in our community who wished to be actively involved with the project.
We’d also like to give an extra huge shout-out of appreciation to our amazingly talented handwork teacher, Laura Holtsberg, and our fantastic Board member and project organizer, Rebecca McGuire, for so diligently leading this year’s campaign! Both Laura and Rebecca worked tirelessly to keep the spirit of this tradition alive, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them for their leadership, organizational skills, and dedication to our school community.
All of this teamwork really pays off. Every Feb. 14th, local shopkeepers look forward to the special moment when they open their doors and see the many hundreds of hearts glistening in the morning sunlight. Likewise, every visitor who stops by downtown Bend for a cup of coffee or to do a little last minute Valentine’s Day shopping can’t help but notice the hearts of all shapes and sizes fluttering from every available nook and cranny.
Each year, local news outlets will even report on the event, which has led to us being a little bit famous here in Bend for our hearts. With our reputation proceeding us, many townsfolk might take a special trip downtown every Valentine’s Day morning just to see our hearts hung up, and perhaps select a favorite heart to take home with them as a memento. We encourage folks to select a heart that speaks to them as a reminder of the love and community spirit that exists here in beautiful Bend, Oregon.
This year, our event is extra special for two reasons. Firstly, there is no doubt that many small local businesses have been hard hit by forced safety closures due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a wonderful feeling to tangibly show these businesses how much we care about them with our heartfelt messages of love and support, and perhaps even drive a little extra foot traffic to their doorstep on the morning of the event. We truly love supporting local businesses at the Waldorf School of Bend, and we hope our hearts help show this love!
Secondly, our school community is mourning the loss this year of an incredible woman who actually formed the inspiration to start our very first Heart Bomb campaign many years ago. Her name was Erin Hansen, and she was a dedicated leader in our school community who served faithfully on our Board of Directors and volunteered endless hours supporting our school with her gifts and her talents.
She was particularly skilled at bringing together diverse groups of individuals for a shared goal, and leading them to complete some incredible community projects that truly made a positive difference in this world. As our Arts & Community Service Liaison for over 7 years, she created and facilitated a variety of large scale public works and service projects by collaborating with the Downtown Bend Business Association, Fox Hollow Independent Living, NeighborImpact, MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, and the Astir Agency. Her legacy lives on in her favorite passion project – our annual Valentine’s Day Heart Bomb installation.
Erin was also a loving wife to our former school director, Darren Hansen, and a devoted mother to two sons who both attended the Waldorf School of Bend as students. Her younger son Cole is in fact graduating this year from our 8th grade class, while her older son Eric is now in high school. Many people in our community treasure very fond memories of their time with Erin and her family, and it is fitting that this year’s Heart Bomb campaign is being dedicated in Erin’s honor.
In a truly challenging year when there has been so much heartache, grief, and loss for so many people, we hope our hearts bring a little spark of hope and peace to the folks in our community who need a little extra love right now. Please stop by downtown Bend on the morning of Feb. 14th to witness this sweet celebration and remind yourself that, in the end, “all you need is love…”
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE