More than 600 patients will receive hand-painted "Hearts of Hope" this Valentine’s Day through a program run by a township nonprofit, the organization announced.
The ceramic hearts are to be delivered by Interregnum Inc., a nonprofit that works with people experiencing grief and loss to help them move forward with their lives.
The Hearts of Hope program engages volunteers in painting, wrapping and delivering ceramic hearts to those experiencing illness and other forms of life-altering loss.
Hearts of Hope also are painted for men and women in the military, and hearts painted by Hilldale Elementary School students will be sent to wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Interregnum announced in a news release.
Hilldale principal Marianne Dizpensiere said in the announcement students took pride in painting the hearts and that it was particularly meaningful because Adrian Simone, a Marine from Montville, is recovering at Bethesda after being wounded in Afghanistan.
"They’re honored to paint hearts for the brave men and women that serve our country," she said.
More than 27,000 hearts have been painted and delivered since Hearts of Hope’s inception in 2005, the news release said.
Each heart comes with a hand-written note expressing caring sentiments.
Volunteers will hand-deliver the hearts to patients at Saint Barnabas Health Care System, Hackensack University Medical Center’s John Theurer Cancer Center, Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Saint Clare’s Health System and Mountainside Hospital.
The ceramic hearts are painted through corporate initiatives, Girl Scout and Boy Scout projects, school art class assignments and other community efforts.
One art teacher in the Verona school system, Joni Jasterzbski, has overseen the painting of thousands of hearts by her students after receiving a heart following her own cancer treatment, the organization said.
Susan Macheska, the Hearts of Hope program director for Interregnum, said the program helps creators and recipients.
“It is proven that simple acts of kindness and compassion benefit those experiencing life-altering loss," she said.