Spokane sends Hearts for Hope to Sandy Hook Elementary

SPOKANE, Wash. - With the pain still raw after Friday's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut we all desire to do something to help.

Sometimes the simplest acts can begin the healing process, and at Riverfront Park hundreds have already taken part in a show of hope and healing.

As Ryan Oelrich began placing Christmas presents under the tree for his nieces and nephews, he couldn't stop thinking about the Christmas trees in Newtown, Connecticut and the presents that will remain forever unwrapped.


"I was trying to think of something we could do here, something, however small, that would mean something to the families that have lost so much there," Oelrich said.

So the director of the Ambassadors Foundation, a Spokane non-profit, began cutting out paper hearts and decided he'd ask the Spokane community to write messages of hope and love to the residents of Newtown. He's calling it "Hearts for Hope".

"We've collected over 300 hearts so far in just a matter of hours," Oelrich said.

Three hundred and counting. The fountain at Riverfront Park has become Spokane's gathering place to mourn the loss of 27 lives at the hands of one man.

"I've received some amazing hearts and we're hoping that something as simple as a heart with a message of love from a stranger somewhere in the country will mean something to families over the next year as they begin the healing process," Oelrich said.

In his arms he cradled a bag full of hearts and began to read them out loud.

"I'm sorry, so sorry, I love you, I love my teddy, but I'm giving it to you, love you," Oelrich read. "And it looks like that's from a Sam and he's drawn some hearts and a sad face on there."

"One is obviously from a little young lady who can barely write, but took a heart and just scribbled 'love' on there."

From the scribbles of the young to the eloquent prayers from the faithful, every last heart will be sent to Sandy Hook Elementary. And as long as the hearts keep coming, Oelrich will keep sending them.

The blank hearts will remain at the fountain for the public to write on. Oelrich also says you can cut out your own paper hearts and send them directly to the Ambassadors Foundation offices:

Ambassadors Scholarship Foundation

1956 Ambassador Way

Spokane, WA 99224