‘Butterflies 4 Smiles’ hopes to spread joy during COVID-19 pandemic

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – A group of West End neighborhood kids are working to spread joy during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking everyday household items and transforming them into works of art to donate across the community.

“I hope that it makes people smile,” Eleanore Peterson, one of the ten kids involved in the project told 8News Friday.

The project, called ‘Butterflies 4 Smiles’ blossomed after an afternoon art project turned into a call to action this past summer.

“We were talking one day that people in assisted living homes, in nursing facilities can’t have visitors during the coronavirus,” Sally Sylvester, ‘Butterflies 4 Smiles’ mentor said.

“The kids said that was very sad, so they wanted to do something to cheer up the people.”

Pictured: Charlotte Nerheim, Mallory Lawson, Eleanor Lawson, Connor Lawson, Caitlyn Collins, Evan Collins, Henry Pietrantoni, Addison Golay, Reese Golay, Eleanore Peterson, Sally Sylvester

The group decided to make handmade butterflies, made of coffee filters, clothespins, pipe cleaners and markers, and donate them to people in need of a smile.

“Just thinking about when people get their butterflies – it makes me smile and it makes them smile,” Mallory Lawson told 8News.

The group has already made nearly 3,000 butterflies, and have donated them to local churches and nursing homes. Their efforts have even gone international.

Hundreds of butterflies ready and packed.

“We’ve made a step by step video so people in California, Texas – we have our first international partner in Hong Kong – can make butterflies in their communities,” Sylvester said.

The group has come up with an assembly line system – meeting everyday after school for multiple hours.

“First, we take a coffee filter and fold it in half,” Henry Pietrantoni explains.

“Then, we color it with just markers on one side. Then, we take a spray bottle and spray both sides of them and open it up and hang it on the line. Then, once they’re all nice and dry we scrunch them up in the clothespin and add all the details. We could normally like, about, maybe 100 each afternoon.”

Others, like Eleanor Lawson, take pride in certain jobs.

“I like making the antennas – because I think they’re really fun and I really like the bright colors,” Lawson said.

Those interesting in butterfly donations can email the group at butterflies4smiles@gmail.com.

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