For the past seven years Layne Collinson has been giving her heart to the cause of homelessness. Literally.
Through her Hearts for the Homeless campaign, the Parksville artist has raised more than $20,000 for the Manna Homeless Society of Parksville-Qualicum Beach by creating and selling stained glass hearts and this month she’s expanding her efforts to Nanaimo.
“The Manna Society told me two years ago, ‘You’re our biggest contributor’ and I just break down and cry when they say that,” she said.
Until the end of February, Collinson’s glass hearts are available at the Blue Poppy in downtown Nanaimo and, in a local twist, half of all proceeds will instead support the Haven Society.
“I believe that humanity should be helping humanity,” Collinson said. “That’s what I believe and to the naysayers: Walk a mile in those people’s shoes. Come out and volunteer and see what goes on.”
She said that although she’s received positive feedback over the years, some have criticized her for choosing to help people experiencing homelessness.
“So many people say to me stupid things like, ‘Well, we gave them some money and I saw him go in and get cigarettes,’” she said. “Well, once that money’s gone out of your pocket, let it go. Maybe that’s all they have in their life to keep them going.”
This year’s batch of hearts exceeded 1,000 for the first time, Collinson said. She said the smaller hearts take about 20 minutes to make, while the bigger ones take up to four hours. She said it’s a lot of work but “if you love it, you do it.”
“My first 2020 was 100 and then … I had 300 and then I think the next year was 500 and I just keep designing. I can’t stop,” she said. “If I’m sitting in front of the television I’ll see something, I’ll doodle and within 15 minutes there are like 10, 20 hearts on a page and it’s like, ‘OK, well I’ve got to make these now.’”