Jennifer Zuniga Advertising Manager
On Wednesday, March 27 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Student Center, graphic artist and owner of Ann-spirations, Ann Cosgrove, of Vernon, Connecticut, will be coming to Eastern to talk about her program Hands Touching Hearts. The program started in 2017 and is a global outreach effort that allows Americans of all ages the opportunity to decorate handcrafted medals to show appreciation for United States military personnel with a donation of $5. Hands Touching Hearts is rooted in two core convictions: First, Americans would welcome the opportunity to thank the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces. Second, service members would appreciate receiving messages from their fellow citizens. The medals are given out at military bases and healthcare facilities. No specialized artistic skills required, just a heartfelt desire to say “thank you” to the men and women who serve our country.
The $5 covers step-by-step instructions, one white ribbon with silver embellishment, red paint to decorate the ribbon, paint applicator, and a thank-you note for the medal recipient. The medallion is suspended from a white, satin ribbon that is left embellished. Other than that, the only thing you have to supply are heartfelt wishes for the medal recipient and your own brand of creativity. The handcrafted medals are distributed free of charge to active-duty service members.
The program consists of three steps: 1. The medallion is suspended from a ribbon that is initially left unembellished. Later, people who participate in the program decorate the ribbons using art supplies. A decorator donation of $5 per medal covers materials, printing, and postage. 2. A letter of introduction from Ann-spirations! The letter accompanies medals mailed to military personnel and explains Hands Touching Hearts. 3. A thank-you note for Americans to complete after they decorate medals. Program participants trace one of their own hands on the notepaper and then write a message to the medal recipient.
According to Cosgrove, Hands Touching Hearts was inspired by her parents. She claims that throughout their lives, they willingly sacrificed for family and the country. Born in the 1920s, they lived through the Great Depression and contributed to the war and home fronts during World War II. “From them, I learned that a compassionate heart manifests itself through the work of loving hands. My mother had the ultimate loving hands, always reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, strangers. When she passed away in 2013, I knew that I wanted to keep that spirit of giving alive by doing something with a ‘hands’ theme. Since I have a line of handcrafted giftware, I envisioned that being a part of the plan. But I had no idea what else to do!”
Ultimately, using tracings of her parents’ hands, Cosgrove designed and handcrafted a medal of appreciation that would be sent to active-duty service members. She decided to incorporate many other hands as well by inviting members of the community at large to decorate the medal ribbons. “My father liked the idea of sending thank-you gifts to troops in faraway places and liked the medal I created. Sadly, he passed away in 2017, before the first community members became involved in the program and before the first medals were mailed. However, I have faith that my parents know that Hands Touching Hearts has come to fruition, and I hope they are proud of what’s being accomplished through their loving hands.” By getting involved with the program, you are giving thanks to the men and women of the military for serving our country and safeguarding our freedom. Through the program, Cosgrove has sent boxes of medals to an Air Force base overseas.
“Recently, I received an email from the lieutenant colonel who commands the unit. In part, he wrote: ‘I would like to personally thank you for the Loving Hands/Ann-Spirations gifts that were sent to my squadron throughout these past six months. Kind gestures like these make us feel very much appreciated and not forgotten about. It makes our deployment away from our family and friends a little better. My team here appreciates your gifts and continued enthusiastic support. I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt Thank You!’,” Ann recalls.
You can help out by sponsoring other decorators who would like to participate in Hands Touching Hearts, but can’t afford to do so. A donation of just $5 brings joy to one medal decorator and to the service member who receives the gift. For instance, the generosity of others has made it possible for Ann to present Hands Touching Hearts at a soup kitchen and food pantry.
Ann shares how it is important to support our troops: “I am very fortunate and proud to be an American. I did nothing to deserve or earn the freedom and opportunities I enjoy in this country, they were simply given to me at birth. Every day, there are men and women serving in the U.S. military, voluntarily risking their own lives for mine. And they don’t even know me! Why is it important for us to support our troops? How can we not?”.
For more information, you can visit Ann’s website, www.Anns.work. If you live in the Rockville, Connecticut, area and would like her to lead your medal-decorating session or if you have any questions about the program, call 860-871-6597 or email Annspirations@aol.com. Partner with Ann-spirations today and let your loving hands touch their hearts! Come decorate a medal ribbon, write a thank-you note, and touch a heart.