Waterville Children Create A Thank You Tree for First Responders and Essential Workers

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it seems as though the whole world could use a little bit of extra love this year. Essential workers and first responders have been performing their duties honorably in the midst of a global pandemic that doesn’t seem to have a clear end in sight. Judy DeFelice, owner of Happy Hearts Daycare, had the inspired idea to teach the children she watches about the importance of showing gratitude by making a tree of hearts.

DeFelice’s idea started out as a Valentine’s Day project – a fun arts and crafts activity that involved cutting out hearts and hanging them on the branches of a small tree outside of the daycare center. The Valentine’s Day project turned into a project of gratitude when DeFelice decided to ask the children to write a person that they are thankful for on the paper hearts.

"That was the main thing, that there are so many people out there that are helping all of us not only during the pandemic butall the time," she said in an interview with News Center Maine.

Children have thanked “hospital workers,” “teachers,” and “daycare workers” on their paper hearts. Each one has been laminated and hole punched so they can be hung outside and preserved, despite the harsh winter weather.

DeFelice believes that it’s important for children to learn how to thank people, and be grateful for the actions of others, at a young age – but they’re kind of already good at it!

"You look at adults and they always look at the bad things happening in the world, but if you look at children, they always have a smile on their face and they're always laughing and they always look above and beyond everything and I think we all should," she said.

During a time when troubles are abound, and gratitude may be hard to come by, DeFelice hopes to battle that with her daycare center’s tree of love. If there are any community members out there who would like to fill out their own gratitude heart and affix it to the tree outside 70 Johnson Heights in Waterville, DeFelice says that they are more than welcome to do so!

One of the most important things to remember during times of strife is that we are not alone. Perhaps we should all try to act like children to – seeing the light and finding happiness in any situation; looking above and beyond the bad things that are happening directly in front of us and finding gratitude for the things we do have that are larger than life.

A HUGE “thank you” to all of the frontline and essential workers out there. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

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