The Little Heart Project: An Onalaska woman’s mission to spread love with crochet

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — The kindness of strangers can go a long way. With crochet needles, an Onalaska woman is doing all she can to lift up her community — one small gesture at a time.

“When I’m the most me I’m helping other people. That’s just who I am,” said Kathleen Jensen, founder of The Little Hearts Project.

Jensen crochets hearts, finding joy in crocheting hundreds and hundreds of them.

She and her husband attach notes to them, with 144 different uplifting messages.

The Onalaska mom hands them out to anyone. She distributes them at her workplace, leaves them on shelves and even sticks them in windshields.

One of them reads “It’s okay to not be okay.”

“They’re helpful to me. And hopefully they’re helpful to somebody else too,” Jensen said.

Hearts are fitting for Jensen. She has worked to heal her heart for the past nine years.

“I was suicidal for eight years — all day, every day. All I wanted to do was kill myself,” Jensen said.

She began to feel whole again in September.

“My therapist has taught me to think: ‘What can you do?’ I can do this. I can make hearts,” Jensen said.

Kathleen picked up her hook to make hearts.

She wishes someone would have handed her their heart.

“It could have meant a lot. And that’s why I am doing it now. Because I couldn’t. For me to get out of bed was sometimes all I could do in a day,” Jensen said.

Jensen isn’t taking on this mission alone.

Little hearts connect her to Barb Laga, who heard Jensen’s story and picked up her own crochet hook.

“If it reaches somebody, and it touches them and cheers them up,” Laga said said.

Laga is one of many helping Jensen crochet those thousands of hearts.

Though many do their needlework separately, every stitch ties them together.

“I said if we can help one person, just one person, then it worked. And I hear stories like that all the time,” Jensen said.

Jensen’s project is mending the hearts of others and her own.

Thousands of hearts have already been distributed since Jensen’s project started in April.

Jensen said they are always looking for more volunteers — people who could create hearts or help distribute them throughout the community.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, you can check the Little Heart Project’s website.

The project also has an Instagram account, which you can find here.

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