By Melissa Grant
If you see a paper crane in a public place be sure to pick it up.
There’s a good chance there is a beautiful message on its wings. A message of hope that’s likely to lift your spirits.
For almost four years, Peregian Springs mum Samantha Ruckle has been leaving beautiful handmade paper cranes in random spots around the Sunshine Coast.
Samantha goes to the effort of creating the colourful paper cranes and writing inspiring messages on them to spread kindness, hope and happiness.
She leaves them in cafes, parks, libraries and retail shops, mainly around Peregian Springs, Coolum and Noosa and occasionally at Maroochydore and Caloundra.
Her heartfelt initiative started when she was living in Melbourne while on maternity leave in 2016.
The idea came to her in a random way.
“I was seeing paper cranes everywhere. They would randomly come up on a movie, or on a TV show, or I’d have a dream about it, over a few days,” she explained.
“Then I thought I would learn how to fold a paper crane.
“I kept thinking about folding a paper plane – I thought it would be fun to leave a trail while I was on maternity leave to give me something to do.”
Samantha thought it would be nice to leave a message of hope on her paper cranes.
“At the time I was doing it, I came across the story of Sadako Sasaki – that’s what inspired me to leave the messages and what inspired me to encourage other people to do it too,” she said.
At first, she did it anonymously.
Each paper crane did have a message on its tail that encouraged the recipient to confirm it had been picked up by visiting an anonymous Instagram account called papercraneofhope.
Samantha’s local paper at the time even did a story on her paper crane project and took photos that ensured her identity remained a secret.
However, Samantha let go of her anonymity about eight months after she relocated to the Sunshine Coast.
“I ended up revealing myself after my second daughter was born – she’s 3 now,” Samantha said.
“It was more because at the time it was harder for me to leave paper cranes.”
So how does Samantha come up with the kind messages she puts on her beautiful handmade paper cranes?
“It’s whatever I’m feeling at that moment or something I’m learning. It’s whatever pops into my head at the time,” she explained.
Also, how does she know the messages are having an impact?
“I generally have people contacting me with their own story. For example, someone found my paper crane that said you are worthy of true happiness. It was 18 months to the day since their husband died. It touched their heart and gave them the reminder he is watching out for them.”
Samantha’s daughters, Willow, 5, and Sage, 3, are also involved.
“They love it. They always help with the crane and leaving it at a place, and sometimes they help with the message,” she said.
They aren’t the only ones getting involved either.
“Over the years, different people all over the world have been leaving paper cranes and then tagging papercraneofhope,” Samantha explained.
However, not all of Samantha’s paper cranes go up on her Instagram account.
“Sometimes I leave them at people’s front doors and I don’t necessarily put it on Instagram,” she said.
She’s also discovered many people who have bought jewellery from her online shop have also picked up one of her paper cranes, which include her website address.
“It’s become a bit of a community,” she said.
Samantha, who has a background as a youth worker, this year plans to become a counsellor and create new necklace designs.
She will also keep leaving her paper cranes around the Coast to help provide hope to those who may need it.
“The real message is not so much about spreading kindness, but letting people know there’s always hope and healing for them,” Samantha explained.
“The meaning behind a paper crane is hope and healing. Everyone deserves to have their own healing in their life. And to know that there’s hope, and not to lose hope.”