WALLA WALLA - Valentine's Day can be a difficult holiday for those who are struggling, particularly for the women and children at the YWCA who have been displaced by domestic violence.
Whitman students gathered Wednesday night to make valentines in an effort to help the YWCA.
The card-making party is a fundraiser dreamed up two years ago by professor Mare Blocker, who teaches printmaking and book arts. While serving on the board of review for Whitman's Panhellenic Association, Blocker was struck by the amount of philanthropic events in which the fraternities and sororities participated. Blocker, who also served as an adviser to the Fine Arts House, wondered why the interest houses didn't organize charitable events.
Blocker and the resident adviser of the FAH brainstormed and came up with the idea to have a night where students can make valentines that they donate to be sold for a minimum donation of $3. The event, which is sponsored by the FAH and the art department, raised approximately $500 for the YWCA in its first year.
The third annual event was as popular as ever; the printmaking and book arts studios were packed with students who were chatting away while cutting, gluing and carving. The tables were covered with an array of brightly colored papers, lace trimmings, animal stickers and ribbon. Glitter, however, had a separate station.
"Glitter is the herpes of the craft world. We like to try to keep it as contained as possible," Blocker told the card-makers before turning them loose.
Attendees varied in their industriousness; some made one valentine, some made more. The record for a given night is estimated to be about 15. The catch is that even if the artist wants to take a valentine home, a $3 donation is still required.
Senior Allison Armstrong, making a card for her twin sister, said, "I kind of wish I'd brought more money! I want to make them all night."
The styles of valentines range dramatically. While many stick to the classic pink and red hearts, other designers are adventurous with accoutrements and stitching. Sophomore Sam Alden made one valentine that featured a couple of otters mid-embrace that read "otter-erotic."
Blocker said she wants the students "to see the way arts and crafts projects, even really small ones, can add up to be really powerful."
Blocker, who noted that artists have historically been asked to donate their work for charity, contributed a limited edition print of a raven with a love poem embossed at the bottom that she designed for her husband.
Blocker hopes this will be the most successful valentine fundraiser yet, though she was satisfied just to see her classrooms occupied with enthusiastic card-makers.
"I really like that there's so many people in there, even in a tiny way, making the lives of the people of the shelter better," she said.
The valentines will be sold Monday through Friday at the Reid Campus Center from noon-1 p.m. Valentines will also be on display in Reid's Steven's Gallery, where they can be purchased.
Iris Alden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.