All across Westport, white signs with red hearts were popping up and spreading across the town.

"Westport Has Heart" was a program that was conducted by the Westport Grange on Main Road that sold out now once, but twice. Each sign was $5 each and every penny went towards the Westport Food Pantry to help feed local families who needed assistance. The total amount of funds raised was $28,000 and lasted a couple of months back in 2020.

The Grange has now set up yet another great way to give back, but they're going to need the heart signs back from anyone who is willing to give them up.

All signs that are collected back will be recycled and broken down to help those with disabilities that affect their mobility. I spoke with one of the Grange board members, Sarah LaValley, who better explained the plans set forth for the signs.

"I was with (board member) Barbara Smith and since we are both environmentally conscious, we were wondering what we were going to do with thousands of signs that weren't exactly recyclable that are spread all over Westport," LaValley said.

Eventually, they found a woman by the name of Dr. Teresa Willkomm at the University of New Hampshire who teaches occupational therapy on how to craft different things that people with disabilities can use. Dr. Wilkomm came up with the idea that election signs were the perfect material to recycle and be transformed into "holders" for people with medical mobility issues. Since the signs are plastic-coated, it made them easy to sanitize.

"I called up Dr. Willkomm and told her that I have signs to donate, would you be interested?" LaValley said. "Without hesitation, she said yes."

Members of the Grange such as Smith and LaValley initially sparked this program to spread positivity to try and make people feel better during these difficult times.

"Now I have people donating back and I couldn't have hoped for another way for the signs to be repurposed," LaValley said.

LaValley also wanted to express her gratitude to anyone who has made a difference in the past few months in helping to get the project up and off the ground.

"Our eternal thanks for all your goodwill and help," LaValley said. "Please let us know if you need us to pick up your signs and we'll be more than happy to gather them for anyone unable to drop back off to the Grange."

The Westport Grange Post 181 is located at 931 Main Road and can be contacted at (508) 636-8980 for more information.

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