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Blessing Others Through Creativity

How Art 2 Heart is using their gift shop and artistic talents to give back

In a bright turquoise house in Hamel, Minnesota, you’ll find Art 2 Heart (A2H), a small gift shop filled with unique, beautifully handcrafted items made from around the world, from local Minnesotans, and the 51 volunteers at A2H who dedicate their time and talents to bless others through creativity. “That is our main mission at Art 2 Heart,” explains Executive Director Jeanine Viani, “to bless others through creativity.”

A2H is an all-volunteer-run nonprofit ministry, donating 100% of net proceeds from their gift shop to 25 ministries and outreaches across the globe and locally at home. The idea formed 18 years ago when artist Lori Westling decided to use her creative talents to help others. She began making and selling beaded flatware locally and donating all proceeds to a village in Zambia she and her friends had adopted through World Vision. 

“With the format of our shop, we gave away around $48,000 last year,” says Jeanine. You can see the impact of their donations with two of their personal care product lines. The soaps, lotions, and shampoos are made by organizations helping women escape trafficking. The women make the products, and all sales at A2H go directly back to support those organizations and women.  

Along with selling products made by their partners, A2H’s talented volunteers craft many of the items through their Creative Hearts crafting group. Tuesday mornings, a group of women gathers upstairs at the shop to create one-of-a-kind handcrafted products. 

“We used to make goods for the shop but have pivoted to find places in need where we can create items to fill a direct request,” says Jeanine. “One request we filled was with the Robbinsdale Women’s Center. They loved the tote bags we use at the shop to bag up customers’ purchases, and so the Creative Hearts group made bigger ones to use as diaper bags for the women at the center.”

Jeanine assures you don’t have to be crafty to volunteer. “We like to ask all our volunteers, ‘what brings you joy?’ So I like bookkeeping. I’m not crafty,” laughs Jeanine. “We have volunteers who love marketing or cooking or others who love photography. When you do what brings you joy, everyone’s happy to show up and excited to work.” 

A2H also shares its creative work through its HEartReach prayer program. Upon request, volunteers will send prayers and gift packages to encourage and comfort. During the pandemic, A2H volunteers hand-wrote thousands of cards with notes of appreciation and encouragement to front-line workers, including local fire stations, nurses, and 911 operators. 

“We also have a little blessing kit with 10 handmade postcards for people to send an encouraging note themselves. You can pick one up in the shop for free,” says Jeanine. 

Through the talents of the volunteers at A2H, they hope to give away even more and continue to bless others through creativity.

Learn more about their partners, stories, and how you can volunteer at: