Red Cross Volunteers Share a Piece of Their Hearts

American Red Cross volunteers shared a piece of their hearts with America’s heroes this Valentine’s Day.

More than 50 volunteers came together at the Red Cross Greater New York headquarters on Feb. 4, 2014, to learn how to craft origami heart cranes. Since that time, volunteers have made more than 700 heart cranes that will be distributed to soldiers and veterans in VA hospitals.

The Red Cross Hearts for Heroes project was developed by Red Cross Case Manager Patty Jones. Volunteers at the event were from local high school Red Cross clubs and companies participating in the Ready When the Time Comes(RWTC) program. RWTC is a corporate volunteer program where the Red Cross trains employees from partnering companies and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.

“It’s a nice way to say ‘thank you’ and remind [soldiers and veterans] that they are cared about,” said Brandon Grill, Hunter College High School Red Cross Club member.

Jones volunteered her time at this session and several other one-on-one meetings to teach people how to fold the heart cranes.

“I’m a big proponent of sharing knowledge,” Jones said. “If I find a design I think other people would like to make for themselves or friends or family then I like to share that with them. It’s fun teaching people how to do it and seeing where they take it.”

Jones also spearheaded a project where volunteers made heart cranes for people affected by Superstorm Sandy. Volunteers distributed them in Sandy-affected areas on Oct. 29, 2013, the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding. The origami crane has become an international symbol of peace. The heart crane is a version that includes the traditional peace crane and the shape of a heart.

The heart cranes are packaged with a quote from Helen Keller that reads, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

A tag on the back of each heart crane reads, “Thank you for your service. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“I’ve always liked origami,” said Lisa Taub, employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers and RWTC volunteer. “I thought the opportunity to make origami hearts for veterans in hospitals was a wonderful way to spend a little extra time one night.”

“It’s a small token of appreciation,” said Jill Cepero, Mercer employee and RWTC volunteer. “It’s a thoughtful and nice thing we can to do to really show that we appreciate them.”

The heart cranes will be distributed by volunteers at VA hospitals across the New York City metropolitan area and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Volunteers from the following companies participated: American Express, BNY Mellon, Colgate Palmolive, Mercer, MetLife, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and UBS Financial Services, Inc.

Red Cross Club members from the following high schools participated: Baruch High School, Bayside High School, Bronx High School of Science, Forrest Hills High School, Fort Hamilton High School, High School of Fashion Industries, Hillcrest High School, Hunter College High School, John Bowne High School, Leon M. Goldstein High School, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, and Townsend Harris High School.

To view a photo gallery of volunteers making the heart cranes, you can visit

To learn more about the RWTC program, you can visit

To learn more about the heart crane project for people affected by Sandy, you can visit

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