Galesburg woman at the 'heart' of worldwide virtual scavenger hunt

GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) - Social distancing is our “new normal,” but it can be isolating for many people.

Luckily one Galesburg woman found a unique way to connect people all around the world without ever having to leave the house!

She created a page where people can share photos of hearts and uplifting messages on their homes and businesses to join together in solidarity. It originally started as a local idea and quickly took off.

Krista Wynes said, "I saw a random post on Facebook with a picture of the house with the heart in the window and giving the idea of a digital scavenger hunt and it was amazing, and I loved it, and I was looking for something to do with my kids.”

Wynes shared the post in a local Galesburg Facebook group, where someone suggested she create another group specifically for the virtual scavenger hunt.

“Somebody said, hey, would you start a Facebook group for this so we can share our hearts,” said Wynes.

She created Heart Hunters and no sooner did it become a viral sensation.

The group was created Saturday morning and by Tuesday at noon, it had reached over 85,000 members.

Wynes said, "I was hoping to reach a few families around Galesburg to be able to have enough windows to go to and find with my own family.” Next thing she knew, people from all around the world were sharing their heart decorations and uplifting messages.

"I've cried tears of joy several times looking at these posts as people share and reach out. I'm amazed at what it's become it's taken on a life of its own," she said.

The group quickly spreading a message across the globe to share kindness, spread joy, and share a little love, all while social distancing, of course.

Wynes’ two sons, Lincoln and Harrison helped her out with the crafts, and now proudly watched what their mom started spread into an international phenomenon.

"It feels like that's gonna make people happy and that's so much fun because we get to make hearts,” said Harrison.

Hearts could be seen on full display at houses, businesses, and even the hospital in Galesburg.

Lauren Boynton and her daughter Sophia Nache were inspired to continue passing along some love to neighbors, family, and people around the world.

“A lot of people are coming up with a lot of cool ones,” said Boynton.

Nache told her mom she’s inspired by teachers, so the pair set out to be as crafty as they could, finding inspiration for door designs.

They even helped share some extra hearts with people around Galesburg.

Boynton said she hopes to continue handing out hearts to her neighbors to join in on the challenge.

She said, "We've been shown over the years that everybody rallies together. Everybody helps each other."

Wynes told TV6, "Thankfully through social media now we can still be together even when we're apart."

The movement now nearly double the size of the population in the town where it started.

People around the world encouraged to continue spreading kindness and joy. One heart at a time.