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Minnesota mom's painted thank you to essential workers sparks a movement

Heather Lane and her 8-year-old son Alex painted their message on their retaining wall.

EDINA, Minn. — What started as a chalked message on Heather Lane's retaining wall, has spread to at least 3000 yard signs distributed to 34 states, thanking doctors, nurses, janitors, truck drivers and other essential workers.

“I hope that as a society we never, ever, forget the day that all these people went to work for us,” Heather says.

The Edina mom was feeling anxious back in March about the toll being taken by COVID-19. “And I said to my little guy, ‘Let’s do something, let’s do a project.’”

Heather and her eight-year-old son Alex used colored chalk to write “THANK U” in bold letters, followed by six circular icons representing police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, truck drivers and grocery workers.

The response was immediate.

“I think I had the medical circle up first and someone stopped and asked if they could take a picture,” Heather says. “I’m probably in a thousand Instagram photos because people were taking pictures all the time.”

Based on positive feedback to the wall, Heather sampled her friends on interest in yard signs. Her initial order of 200 sold out quickly. Some 3000 have since been delivered, now with additional circles thanking janitors and teachers, both daycare and classroom.

“If you’re going to work, interacting with people for a paycheck, you’re honored in here too. It’s hard to have enough circles,” Heather says.

The circles are now planted on the lawn of Melissa Paddock, whose husband Mike is an emergency room doctor at Regions Hospital. “We wanted to be a part of something that thanked everybody though,” Melissa says. There are so many other people that are making big sacrifices.”

As the chalk message on Heather’s wall faded, mother and son made the thank you more permanent in paint.

It’s fitting, she says.

“I hope we never forget the time everybody stepped up to keep us safe, and fed, and comfortable.”

NOTE: Heather Lane is donating $10 from every sign sold to organizations that supply food to people in need. More information on purchasing signs can be found by clicking here.  

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