This Wisconsin Woman Started Making & Hiding Little Hearts for Mental Health Awareness. Her Movement is Now Huge.

By Christina Lorey
December 2, 2022

In 2022, we introduced you to Kathleen Jensen, an Onalaska woman who started crocheting 15 years ago to cope with severe depression, anxiety, and thoughts of ending her own life.

Last April, she decided to make her pastime-turned passion her purpose and created The Little Heart Project, a motivational mental health movement where Kathleen crochets two-inch hearts, attaches encouraging notes, and leaves them around town.

*2023 UPDATE*

Since our initial story with Kathleen, people across the state have launched their own heart-making hubs.

Eau Claire High School’s Crochet Club started making hearts and hiding them around their school. A Green Bay woman saw the story and asked someone to teach her how to crochet so she could spread positivity, too; within days, the pair made more than 100 hearts and have since recruited 5 more helping hands! 

“I love how the ripple effect of kindness works,” Kathleen told us, as we reconnected over the holidays. “All because you found out about our project.”

We quickly assured Kathleen this was all her, not us.

What’s Next?

The Little Heart Project made and hid an estimated 10,000+ hearts in 2022. Kathleen also shared her mental health journey with hundreds of students, doctors, nurses, first responders, and counselors at conferences and luncheons across Wisconsin. She already has a handful of speaking engagements planned for 2023, but her main goal goes back to the simple shape that started everything.

RELATED: Wisconsin Woman Struggled With Her Mental Health for a Decade. She Now Hides ‘Little Hearts’ to Help Others

“I would love to always have endless hearts to give away,” Kathleen said. “I would also love to see ‘branches’ continue to sprout up around the midwest, where people are making, tagging, and distributing hearts right where they live.”

The Bottom Line

Mental health is now more visible, thanks to Kathleen’s movement.

“Talking about suicide does not cause suicide,” she reminded us. “Hopelessness causes suicide. So let’s keep talking about it, and along the way, possibly save a life or two.”

Get Involved

The Little Heart Project needs you to keep growing!

If you know how to crochet or knit, you’ll easily be able to make these two-inch hearts. Click here for the free pattern.

Not crafty? Email if you’d like some hearts to leave around your neighborhood.

Feeling generous? Kathleen’s Venmo is Kathleen-Jensen-68, or click here to learn about other ways to donate to The Little Heart Project

If you or someone you know is still struggling, you can reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8 for free, confidential 24/7 support. Click here to learn about your options. 


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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