OTTUMWA — A movement called “Heart Hunters” is making its way to Ottumwa and surrounding communities. The idea is for families to put hearts on their windows and front doors for all to see to symbolize hope and “spread a little love and compassion.”

According to the Heart Hunters’ Facebook page, it was first started by a mother living in Galesburg, Illinois, when she saw a friend of hers put up hearts in their window. She decided to create the public Facebook page in which members can post photos of their heart creations and hearts they saw in their communities.

One Ottumwan, Kelsey Daugherty, loved this concept so much, she and her family decided to make their own heart creations.

“We always have liked to hang our art decorations, activities up in the front window of our house,” she said. “It just adds some color and happiness. The kids loved the idea of painting hearts to hang up and they were super excited to get out of the house for a little drive through town to search for more. It’s a good way to get some fresh air and away from the house.”

Jamie Siegrist, a Hedrick resident, also heard about the concept over Facebook. It was something she wanted to participate in.

“I thought it was a cute idea … a good way to spread a little positivity, to connect with others without directly interacting,” Siegrist said, “and also an activity to do with my kids that could be meaningful and educational. They got to do a little art, think about others and do something nice for people. We have gone out to ‘hunt’ a few times, which gets us out of the house, some fresh air, some exercise, and some practice for their observational skills.”

Daugherty said some of her neighbors have reacted positively, telling her how the hearts have brightened their day. She said the reactions provide relief during this time of uncertainty.

“We have had some honk when they go by, wave and smile at the kids when we’re outside,” she said. “One of our elder neighbors was out walking yesterday, and even stopped to say how much she liked it … from the street, obviously, to keep her social distance.”

Siegrist hasn’t received compliments in person but has over social media. The project has made her and her family grateful for the time they get together and the connections they have gotten from others.

“It’s something that feels good in a time when there’s not a lot of good feelings going around,” she said. “It’s fun to participate in a group activity with people all over the world.”

Siegrist encourages others to pursue their own creations and find other ways to be optimistic.

“Look for opportunities and blessings that we wouldn’t have if regular life hadn’t been put on pause,” Siegrist said. “Notice all of the beautiful ways that people pull together when things are tough.”

“There are so many good things happening out there if you take the time to look, this Heart Hunters movement is just one example. But, if you don’t want to stay positive all the time, that’s OK, too. We all can feel the stress and tension from this, so you’re not alone if you’re struggling. It’s OK to feel pressure, and it’s OK to let yourself take a minute to grieve, because while we are gaining some good things, we have also collectively and individually lost some really good things too. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to handle this, we’re all in uncharted territory.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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