Banner appreciation for COVID-19 heroes – Pickering family create Union Station sign to thank frontline workers toiling during pandemic

While others have been heading out to keep essential services moving, Laurette Sharpe and her family wanted to use their time to find ways to show society’s appreciation for that needed work. Their ‘hearts4helpers’campaign will soon be proudly flying at Toronto’s main transit hub.

Pickering mother, Laurette Sharpe, wanted to wear her heart on her sleeve – and even beyond.

Wanting to show support for frontline workers who have been heroically toiling for the sake of us all during days of COVID-19, she and her children decided to create a family-run social movement.

The boys hold up a 'Thank you front line heroes' banner.

The Sharpe brothers show off a banner their family helped create to remind us all of those fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. (Laurette Sharpe photo)

About a month ago, as COVID-19 began spreading throughout the region, Sharpe and her three young sons started an Instagram account @hearts4helpers to encourage people to create ‘heart art’ as a way to show their gratitude and support to those on the frontlines.

“From healthcare, public service and transit workers to the airline industry, mail and courier delivery services,” said Sharpe from her home in Durham Region. “And all those individuals working very long hours whether in a grocery store or distribution centres, and on the road to keep the shelves stocked – the list of helpers is long.”

In just over one month, the team was overwhelmed with the response. They received and posted nearly 200 heart art tributes, some from as far away as South Africa and Australia.

The Instagram account became so popular that her three boys—15 year old Fintan, 13 year old Liam and Kellan, who is 10-years-old, were featured recently is a CBC Toronto’s Front-line Heroes segment.

The proud mom noted: “Very exciting when you’re 10, 13 and 15!”

“We can’t all volunteer or donate PPE (personal protection equipment),” Fintan told CBC, “But we can all be cheerleaders and show our gratitude and support to our frontline heroes.”

The spirited boys are using their self-isolation and alone time to good use.

Sharpe knows not all frontline workers are on social media, nor have the time during this unprecedented crisis, so they wanted to come up with another way to show them how much they are appreciated. They created a banner and went to the trouble and expense of having it printed to share with those on the frontlines and gifted one to Metrolinx to soon hang in downtown Toronto’s Union Station.

Metrolinx News will share images when the banner is put up in its new home – front and centre for many essential workers heading in and out of Toronto.

The boys hold up the banner outside a GO station.

The boys outside their local GO station. Their efforts have been recognized, and duplicated, internationally. (Laurette Sharpe photo)

“The boys and I are delighted that both the Metrolinx team and all of the essential workers that pass through the station each day will see all the tributes,” Sharpe said.

“Thank you for everything the Metrolinx team is doing to keep our families and communities safe and healthy.

“This banner is our gift from our family to all of you.”

To follow their efforts on Instagram look for them at @heartsforhelpers.

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of Media.