‘That thread that holds us together’: Happy Heart Hunt group started by Milton teacher connects thousands

MADISON, Wis. – With social distancing as the new status quo, a local effort is connecting communities.

As people adjust to staying home, it doesn’t take long to realize being cut off from the rest of the world isn’t easy.

“It’s very difficult,” Milton teacher Leslie Brissette said. “I miss my students. I miss that routine.”

“It’s been challenging,” said Janesville resident Alanna Langholff, who works in healthcare. “We are doing the best we can to get through it.”

What might seem small on the surface is shaping up into something big. Hearts are popping up everywhere in windows and doors of homes and stores including Dave’s Ace Hardware, which is offering supplies for community members to start their own projects.

“This seems to have taken on a life of its own, especially in the Milton community,” said owner David Warren. “We decided we’ll get on board with the hearts.”

“I feel like the heart is just a universal symbol of love and also as a healthcare worker, of strength,” Langholff said.

Both Warren and Langholff are among the 75,000 members of the the Facebook group Happy Heart Hunt.

Since Brissette started the group last week, she said it’s exploded, with new members from all over.

“It’s kind of wild,” she said. “Just to know the little thing I did is causing people happiness, it makes my heart happy.”

When the rest of the world feels far away, Brissette said the hearts show a connection that’s always there.

“Being that we are all at home not getting that connectedness we crave, I think, as humans has caused this group to be a place where people can grow and feel they are connected and walk through a neighborhood and see hearts. We’re all going through the same thing,” she said. “It is that thread that holds us together.”