In Binghampton, a place that’s all heart is giving kids the opportunity to grow and connect. Once a blighted lot across from Lester School, the Carpenter Art Garden now spills over with an abundance of color and creativity. Kids meet after school each week to make take-home art projects, tend to garden boxes, and work on permanent installations in the Art Garden. Under the guidance of instructor Erin Harris, the Art Garden gives these children a chance to explore their own creative voices and to build self-confidence. The success of the Art Garden would not be possible without the unified efforts of volunteers, local artists, and Binghampton community residents.
To show their gratitude and to spread the love and joy from the Art Garden, the kids wanted to make something they could share. For Valentine’s Day, dozens of Art Garden kids deliver special wooden lawn hearts to their Binghampton neighbors. Carrying the hearts door to door, the kids swelled with pride seeing their work so prominently displayed. Last year’s 50 hearts were not enough to go around, so the kids painted and delivered nearly 130 hearts this year. Between the residents receiving the valentines and the children delivering them, there was no shortage of ear-to-ear smiles. The hearts dot the lawns of Binghampton homes, and for a very simple gesture, they bring a great deal of beauty and unity.
The Carpenter Art Garden already has big plans for the future. Mosaic projects are lined up for spring, and Harris is spearheading an effort to convert the property next door into an indoor space for children to learn and create.
The Carpenter Art Garden is one of 12 organizations that received a grant from GiVE 365 last year. GiVE 365 is a group of charitably-minded Memphians that give $365 a year, a dollar day, to collectively support local nonprofits. Each year, members of GiVE 365 choose a theme and nonprofits apply for funding based on their fit within that theme. With last year’s theme of “Home is Where the Heart Is,” the Carpenter Art Garden perfectly illustrates how to make a Memphis neighborhood more vibrant, safe, and livable.