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Volunteers & valentines

Handmade, heartfelt cards by the hundreds were crafted by volunteers who wanted to spread some love to the shut-ins and elderly residents who receive services through Meals on Wheels. (Courtesy of Kathy Chilton)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It started as a way for her calligraphy students to practice what they had learned, to let their lettering have some purpose and playfulness, and maybe bring a little joy to the beneficiaries of their work.

So they made valentines.

Kathy Chilton has taught calligraphy for about 30 years, and making valentines has often been part of her classes. The cards were then delivered to a nursing home to spread some love to residents on Valentine’s Day.

“When a calligraphy student is practicing to make a word just right,” she said, “it might as well be ‘love.’ ”

Not only did the residents love their unexpected love notes, but the scribes loved making them.

“People like being able to brighten someone’s day,” she said.

Last year, Chilton had an idea: Expand and diversify the project by inviting a variety of folks to craft homemade, heartfelt valentines for the clients of Meals on Wheels, which distributes food to about 500 shut-ins and elderly residents in the Albuquerque area.

The project was such a success that it’s being done again this year.

A volunteer uses a glue stick to create her Valentine’s Day card. (Courtesy of Kathy Chilton)

It didn’t take much to find volunteers.

“It was mostly word-of mouth,” Chilton said. “Since this is a repeat of what we did last year, people just seemed to know this was coming up.”

One woman, she said, began crafting her cards before Christmas to have them ready in time for Valentine’s Day delivery. Another woman asked if she could make some cards because her husband, a client of Meals on Wheels, received one of them last year that brought him joy.

“She wanted to create that same joy for others,” Chilton said.

So on an unseasonably warm Saturday in February, Chilton opened her North Valley home to a couple dozen valentine volunteers, set up her pingpong table, brought out the glue sticks, pens, scissors, red and white paper, lace and paint, and let the group have at it.

“There were no guidelines,” she said. “Only that they be heartfelt and nice.”

Several of the volunteers brought food to share. By the end of the afternoon, the love each of them had put into their cards was also in that room.

“It was a jolly time,” Chilton said.

Rabia Orhan and her son, Alp, are among about two dozen people who met Feb. 1 at a North Valley home to create Valentine’s Day cards for clients of Meals on Wheels. At the far end of the table is Catie Glover. (Courtesy of Kathy Chilton)

What was most pleasing about the project is how it attracted such a diverse group. Many are members of Escribiente, Albuquerque’s Calligraphic Society. Others are from the Raindrop Turkish House, a cultural center that promotes understanding of diverse cultures through services, classes and events.

“We are living in a time when getting together to send love is very important,” she said.

In this frosty, testy, troubled world, it’s good to remember that it’s not hard to commit the simple joy of brightening another’s day – and that for at least a day, it might as well be love.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.



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