Love was spread on the Deschutes River Trail over the Valentine’s holiday. Bend 11-year-old Laila Casinelli placed approximately fifteen hand-crocheted hearts around the trail before February 14 for passersby to take as a token of love.
“Her idea of doing this was all on her own,” Kim Casinelli, Laila’s mother, said. “She told me, ‘I’m going to teach myself how to do this on YouTube, and then I’m going to sprinkle [the hearts] around the river trail just like they do at Christmas time with the ornaments.'”
The small act of kindness did not go unnoticed. Southwest Bend resident Lucille Cronen publicly thanked the anonymous knitter on Nextdoor, the social networking service for neighborhoods. Kim Casinelli saw the post and responded that her daughter was the cupid spreading the love.
“It was like a tiny miracle happening right before my very eyes,” Cronen said. “When I posted a thank you on Nextdoor, I discovered and was truly amazed that an 11-year-old was our cupid. How amazing that someone so young could have such compassion and depth of character.”
Laila received inspiration from her project-based class at her online school, Prisma, where she was assigned a public art project. She also loves the heart display Waldorf School of Bend does downtown.
Her mother said the appreciation for the kind act has motivated Laila to continue her crocheting hobby. Another woman on Nextdoor even offered to teach crocheting to further her skills.
“I love for Laila to know that this is something that can be like a lifelong love and passion and a hobby,” Kim Casinelli said. “[A hobby] that gives her some joy and something meaningful that that feels good.”
Laila Casinelli is now on to making spring flowers and has thought of sprinkling some love on children at the hospital with her gifts, said Kim Casinelli.