On October 8, 2014, my 13 year old son, Peyton James, came home from school and attempted to take his own life. Five days later on the 13th, he succumbed to his injuries and was declared brain dead. My world changed forever that day. The pain that a parent goes through when losing a child is indescribable. Knowing how I felt that day, and every day since then, I have made a promise to myself that I would do what ever was in my power to keep another parent from experiencing the pain I live with daily.
Peyton was bullied for most of his days in school. His red hair, freckles, small build and quirky personality made him an easy target. All he ever wanted was to be accepted for who he was, but instead, he was pushed, shoved, called names and harassed. When he was 12, he was also diagnosed with depression. When all of the bullying and depression became too much for him, he chose to take his own life rather than live with the pain.
In February of 2015, I was contacted by an incredible lady named Jill Kubin. Her Daughter Emily was involved in the Hats for Hope Initiative, and she asked if I would allow them to hold a hat drive in Peyton’s name. I was honored, and the drive took in over 500 hats for the homeless and under resourced.
Jill’s next idea was even better. Her and her daughter’s Emily and Julia were leaving small knit or crochet hearts with a positive message attached around their town. Once again, she asked if they could call the project the #PeytonHeartProject. The idea is simple but elegant. People find the heart, look up the hashtag and see the message behind them. They also get to see our message which is to bring awareness to bullying, suicide and mental illness.
I agreed, and became involved. I began leaving hearts around local restaurants, stores, the mall, and any where else I could think of. I also began to post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter hoping to raise awareness. One of my Facebook posts caught the eye of Christina Hammond, editor for StitchandUnwind.com. I told her about what #PeytonHeartProject was about and she agreed to help. I am looking for any one that knits or crochets that would like to help. Even just a few hearts would make a world of difference, and would help carry on Peyton’s legacy of just wanting to make people happy.
Editor’s Note: I’m glad to help in honor of Peyton, as this is a topic near to many of us. Below you’ll find a collection of free knitting patterns and free crochet patterns to help you make hearts to leave around. I’ve already made a few with scraps I’ve had sitting around. I leave them wherever I visit the local Starbucks, Target and even the gym. If you do want to make a heart or two, please tag #PeytonHeartProject in your message attached so whoever finds it can learn more.
To participate, make your own hearts and tags with your favorite heart pattern. They don’t have to be knit or crochet, but since we are “Yarnies,” we go with yarn around here. Make a little tag with an uplifting message to the recipient using one of the quotes from their website, including the hashtag #PeytonHeartProject on there so people can find more information later. Leave it anywhere you think someone might need a little smile, or even give it to someone directly if you know they need a little extra boost. You never know what the person who receives the heart is going through, so this might the little bright light that keeps them going. Have fun!
If you’d like to create a bunch of little hearts and send them along to Peyton’s father to distribute, please contact ThePeytonHeartProject on facebook to learn more.
Free Heart Knitting Patterns
Be Mine Heart Garland – modify to be a single heart easily!
Free Crochet Heart Patterns
Christmas Love Heart Ornaments – Ready to hang anywhere!