SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Nearly 100 heart-covered signs that have been popping up from Braintree to Cumberland can be traced to a backyard in Seekonk.
As COVID-19 put the clamps on Melanie Amorim’s life and graphic arts business, she needed something to occupy her creative spirit and energy.
“I’m used to go, go, go all day long,” Amorim said.
She could not sit still and started looking for something to do ─ and a way to motivate her two quarantined sons.
“My kids are getting older. They’re not blowing bubbles everyday anymore,” Amorim said. “I’m not chasing them around outside anymore. I’m trying to get them outside. Use their hands. Paint, sand, drill the holes.”
A few months into the pandemic, she noticed a town near Boston that was blooming with hearts.
It was a quiet contrast to the social-justice demonstrations up and down the interstate from her home.
“Literally within earshot, I could hear it,” Amorim said. “The protests were happening.”
All of the above combined to fuel some light construction using otherwise discarded wood.
Simple signs, free to a good home, she calls “Take a Heart.”
“In the beginning it was like, ‘Oh, someone took one,'” Amorim said. “And then the count got somewhat higher.”
That was about 80 signs ago.
They’re now hanging in several local communities, including Shirley, Mass. and East Providence.
One that she just noticed is tacked outside a second-story window across the street from her home.
“Yes, of course,” she said after she was asked if she wonders where all the signs are. “My first stranger who picked one up and posted publicly? That was great. He posted, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I just picked up my sign.'”
Amorim wants the signs to stand for the concept of love over hate.
“As my boys get older,” she said. “I worry about the world they’ll be a part of.”
But the protests did prompt a question.
“I talked to the boys to ask should we make a sign for Black Lives Matter?” Amorim said. “Should we make a sign for that? And they said we should.”
That’s about as political as a few of her signs will get.
The three hours a week she spends with her children sawing, stenciling and painting are all about spreading a message that she said is as simple as it is important.
“Just come and take a heart,” Amorim said. “Spread the heart, not hate.”
Amorim said she has “an unlimited supply of pallets” and will keep making signs as long as people continue to take them from her sidewalk display.
You can pick up one of the signs for free on Fay Street in Seekonk.