Debbie Dengel has been doing her best to spread a little happiness and kindness by making hearts for her neighbours to put up in their windows. (Photo submitted)

100 Mile grandmother spreads love and kindness with window hearts

‘I thought maybe it’s time to get a little creative’

Across B.C. and Canada this week people have taken to pasting hearts in their windows, an effort led in 100 Mile House by Debbie Dengel.

Dengel has been living in 100 Mile since 1981 and has lived in her home on Dogwood Street for the last 26 years where she raised her two sons. While she’s currently not working, Dengel works as a certified dental assistant in the community.

“100 Mile is our home and it’s a very warm and loving community,” Dengel said. “When I kind of heard about these little hearts I thought maybe it’s time to get a little creative.”

Since she largely confined herself to the house, to practise proper social distancing, Dengel said she’s been fairly busy around the house purging unneeded items, cleaning and otherwise taking part in spring cleaning. In addition, she’s also been sure to make it a point to reach out to some people in the community she feels need someone to talk to during these times.

However, much like billions around the globe, Dengel is still craving human social interaction and ways to connect with people. As her preferred method of hugging is obviously off the table, she was looking for an alternative way to show her affection.

A few days ago, Dengel received a call from her grandaughters in Prince George who told her “Grandma we put hearts on our windows today.” As they showed her the fruits of their labour, their mother sent Dengel an article about Bailey Grose, a woman from Prince George who started painting hearts in her windows to keep her children and other members of the community engaged. The trend has since caught on across the province as people put hearts of their own up in their windows as a sign of solidarity.

After they shared this with her, Dengel went downstairs and dug out her sewing and button box, a glue gun and started making a heart for her own window. However, as she began making it she thought she’d make one for the neighbours and before long she decided to just keep going and make as many as she could in three hours on a Sunday.

“They’re not fancy, they’re just an expression of love. I chose words (to write on them) like strength, calm, peace, faith and love and I took the hearts to the neighbours and they were so appreciative,” Dengel said.

Dengel encouraged her neighbours to take the heart and tape them to their windows with the words facing inwards so that the house’s occupants can read it and gain encouragement from it. She thinks that, should you get anxious or worried by current events, it’s good to have one encouraging word to focus on and drive them away.

Shortly after, Dengel was telling an elderly lady she knows in the community about the initiative about how she could put a heart in her window by simply folding a piece of paper, drawing a heart and cutting it out. She was so delighted by the idea that she shared some wisdom from Winnie the Pooh with Dengel who found it quite insightful.

“Piglet once said to Pooh ‘what day is it pooh?” And Pooh answered ‘Today.’ And Piglet said “My favourite kind of day,” Dengel recalled. “She’s right, we only have today.”

In these uncharted times, she’s hoping that people who see these hearts walking or driving by will feel a sense of love and kindness. As Dr. Bonnie Henry says, Dengel said, this is a time for communities to come together, in spirit.

She said that she finds it really neat now when she goes for a walk with her husband down the street and they see all the hearts in the windows, especially as other people are now starting to put their own kind of hearts up.

“It’s inspiring that we can just be loving and kind. There’s a lot of negativity, a lot of stress and a lot of worry for many so this is just a little wee piece of and kindness we can all share with each other,” Dengel said.

While we have to be serious about social distancing currently, Dengel is hopeful people will join her in this form of fond, but distant, social interaction and put some hearts of their own up in their windows.

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