The HEARTH Project: On Valentine’s Day, Providing a Little “Normalcy” for Students in Need

The HEARTH Project: On Valentine’s Day, Providing a Little “Normalcy” for Students in Need

Student receiving Valentine's Day items from the Hearth Project

Our hearts are full today, thanks once again to our caring community and the dedicated staff with PCPS’ HEARTH Project.

The HEARTH Project is a longstanding organization that serves students who are homeless (or experiencing some degree of homelessness) in our district. One of HEARTH’s many initiatives is providing Valentine’s Day cards to Polk elementary school students.

The cards are typically donated by PCPS employees, local residents and community organizations. There were so many cards donated last year that HEARTH had plenty on hand for this Valentine’s Day.

Nearly 230 students received cards this year. Many of these children and their families are facing struggles far greater than anything related to Valentine’s Day, but you’d be surprised at what a simple gesture can do.

“In spite of what all these students are going through outside of school, being able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your classmates makes a huge difference. It provides a little bit of normalcy in a chaotic world,” says Ben Ruch, a homeless liaison and coordinator with the HEARTH Project.

“Some of these kids wake up in the morning, and they don’t know where they’re going to be sleeping that night. Participating in something as simple as a Valentine’s Day exchange can mean so much,” Ruch added. “A lot of things like this we take for granted, because we don’t have that housing instability. Sometimes you can lose sight of what it’s like for these kids.”

A big hug and thanks to all of the people and staff who support the HEARTH Project, allowing us to help homeless students in Polk County.

You can follow the HEARTH Project on Facebook or contact the staff at 863-457-4709. For more information, please visit

Hearth Project staff with a basket full of donated valentines.