This year, Cherokee County librarians and educators have offered several creative ways of celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Sixteen youth attended the Hulbert Community Library’s Valentine Craft event on Thursday, Feb. 6. The activity was a part of a four-part program that encourages children, youth, and adults to use their creativity to construct crafts.

Pam Davis, library assistant manager, takes turns with other library staff to put on these events. She explained that Valentine’s Day is not just for couples, since not everyone has a Valentine's date. Last year, the library staff celebrated “Anti-Valentine’s Day,” but this year, staffers wanted to send a more positive message, so they are promoting the notion that love doesn’t have to be romantic.

On Tuesday, the library hosted elementary students who made heart-shaped candleholders out of Sculpey clay. While the knick-knacks baked, the children traced their hands on cardstock and cut them out to make cards. On Thursday, the library hosted youth ages 12-17 who used acrylics to paint mason jars, then decorated them with hearts.

The librarians also watered down acrylic paint with dish soap, which turns the substance into a scratchable veneer. Students wrote 10 things they liked about a given person onto cardstock and painted the veneer on the individual messages. When a recipient receives the card, he or she scratches off the hearts to discover what the giver said about them.

Davis explained that the library goes through great lengths to put on these events because there is a need in the community.

“Crafts seem to be what everyone loves,” said Davis.

She suggested that budget cuts at schools may contribute to interest in craft programs at the library. She said students fall back on the library to do arts and crafts, because they are not always offered in the public schools.

“It is important for students to use art, because it is the other side of the brain. It is an outlet for students’ creativity,” said Davis.

For the past two years, social studies teacher Tyler Teague has promoted Valentine’s Day at Hulbert High School. Last year, the high school decided to host a Valentine’s Dance for Hulbert Junior High. The students cut out hearts, strung them with yarn, and put them up in the cafeteria.

Rather than awarding the cutest couple, the junior high voted for who was the kindest person. To fund the dance, they sold origami hearts and raised $200.

“I did a Google search and learned how to do the folds,” said Teague. “We affixed Hershey’s kisses on the origami hearts and sold them. People bought multiple ones and gave them to their friends.”

They created a workspace where people could buy materials to design their own origami hearts, even with nontraditional Valentine’s Day colors.

This year, Teague has connected with his students on Snapchat. He launched a forum where students can submit notes anonymously to recognize individuals for their acts of kindness, and Teague shares these notes publicly.

“I wanted to cultivate a culture of kindness,” he said.

About 200 students have engaged in these posts. He spotlights high school students on his feed, and he feels these kinds of activities help to turn the Valentine’s Day narrative away from romantic love and toward being kind.

The librarians at the front desk of the John Vaughan Library at Northeastern State University have opened their “Can My One Liner Get Me Checked Out?” display. Student worker Al Childress says it is like a blind date with a book. The librarians pulled books from its shelves, wrapped them in black paper, and covered them with hearts. They then printed and affixed a romantic one liner from the book. The display aims to encourage reading at the library.

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