Thousands Send Messages of Support on the NH Card for Ukraine
The New Hampshire Card for Ukraine to show support for the war-torn nation during the ongoing attack by Russia is on display at the State House for all to read before it leaves the Granite State.
Jim Conant and son Sean of Hampton Falls have spent the past two months bringing the 8-foot card all around New Hampshire to colleges and malls, including the Mall at Fox Run. It is now at the visitors center at the State House in Concord through Friday, May 6. New signatures are not able to be added.
The card is made up of three 8x4 panels that stretches nine to ten feet wide when opened up. Anyone was welcome to write their message of support, no matter how short or long, and at no charge.
"Every place we've gone we've had a great turnout from our fellow citizens in New Hampshire. It's been really heartwarming. New Hampshire has a lot of caring people," Jim Conant said.
It's nearly impossible to get a count of the number of signatures on the card, but Jim is okay with that because it proves how successful the collection was.
"We tried to do a count on one of the panels. We said 'let's try to get an accurate estimate on one of the panels," Jim said. "But it's so hard because they're so full. The signatures run into each other sometimes. It was a daunting task just to get an estimate."
Jim Conant said that they received many thanks along the way for creating the card in the first place in recognition that not everyone is in a position to make a donation to the Ukrainian people.
"We were happy to have this card available to people to sign, because not everyone can reach into their wallet at this time to make a monetary donation to a charity or send clothing or food or medical supplies," Jim Conant said. "This offered people a unique opportunity to express themselves. We weren't asking for any donations, so it was essentially a free opportunity for people."
Jim Conant's son Sean said that he was asked by a reporter for the Winnacunnet High School student newspaper, The Winnachronicle, why they brought the card to the school.
"I explained to her that it was meaningful to us to have people of all ages and all walks of life included in this project, because people of all ages and walks of life in Ukraine are being affected, and so it's important to have perspectives from all New Hampshire citizens," Jim Conant said.
It was a learning experience for many of the families with small children who signed the card. Jim and Sean engaged many of them in conversation to help them realize they were doing more than just signing a yellow wall with a Sharpie.
"There was this young girl about 8 years old, and she wrote 'I hope Russia stops bomming (sic) you.' Even the younger kids know what's going on in Ukraine enough to write these poignant messages. Maybe you or I wouldn't write something that's so direct, but that's the beauty of children. They just write what's on the top of their minds or what the rest of us are thinking," Sean Conant said.
Viewing the Messages
Sean Conant said that when the family did the card for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, it was relatively simple to put the card in the back of his dad's truck and drive it to Connecticut.
The plan is still to get the card physically to Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, into the country, and ultimately to the Ukrainian people. In the meantime, the messages can also be viewed on the website fromnh.com.
"That will make it immediately accessible to any Ukrainian with a device and access to the internet. We think it's great to have it exhibited in New Hampshire at the State House and at the U.S. Capitol. But the whole point of this project is for the Ukrainian people to have access to the card and to read the messages of support," Sean Conant said.