In 2019, the Heart2Heart foundation, an outreach program, was created by Harding alumnae Alina Westbrook and Claudia Helbig to use self creativity to serve others.
In high school, Westbrook said she discovered a passion for helping others through donations of hand-crocheted items after a trip to Vienna, Austria. The refugees there were struggling for many basic needs; seeing this sparked interest in Westbrook to help the mission team there.
“The idea is that we can use the talent God gave us to create things to help supply people in need,” Helbig said.
They said they wish to provide these refugees with something that they can hold on to in their moments of transition. The process was not met easily, but through the help of the Searcy community, they were able to accomplish their goals.
“I’ve never had to buy yarn,” Westbrook said. “People will just tell me, ‘Oh I have extra yarn!’”
The contributions of everyone involved helped Westbrook and Helbig learn from people like Rose and Victoria, post workers for Harding University. With their guidance and help, Westbrook and Helbig were able to learn the process of company shipping, which was a crucial factor in their mission to help the refugees in Vienna.
Each person involved in Heart2Heart has not only impacted others, but they have also been deeply touched, as well.
“Not only can I meet the needs of people around me, but also the potential of everyone to do something that can show the light of Christ to other people,” Helbig said.
Heart2Heart provides opportunities for the Harding and Searcy community to get involved. Ann Hobby, Westbrook’s grandmother and retired Harding library employee, saw her free time and interest in knitting as an opportunity to help out her granddaughter’s cause. From there, Hobby began enlisting the help of her friends.
“Whether it’s a crochet hook, or knitting needle, or a needle and thread, we can take that and use it in some way that we have not ever even dreamed about,” Hobby said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization faced many difficulties. With people not coming together to work and conflicts with shipping things over, they had to find ways to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.
“That was one of those door closes, God opens a window moments,” Helbig said. “‘Okay then! We’ll make masks. There is still a way we can contribute and adapt to the need.’”
The group made over 50 masks to send to the refugees in Vienna, who deeply needed them during the troubling times.
Everyone involved in Heart2Heart has the same mission: to use their creative gifts to serve others.
“It’s stimulating to think what could be done from something simple,” Hobby said.
Not only that, but they believe in the importance of spreading the awareness of refugee outreach to the rest of the world.
“We try to think of these people as strangers, but this is the kingdom of God — there are no strangers here,” Helbig said. “We can cement that through this act of kinship.”