Though Lanny Burrill retired decades ago, you’ll still find him working hard in the woodshop at Riverview Retirement Community.
This 82-year-old grandfather turns scrap wood into pocket-sized hearts and heartfelt moments for everyone he meets.
Lanny Burrill said, “I hope people feel loved and special.”.
Lanny has made thousands of tiny hearts over the past two decades.
But it’s a passion that started by accident, as he will tell you.
“I found a beautiful piece of wood in my basement, so I made a heart for my wife. When she loved it, I made more,” Lanny said.
He has created about 1,500 hearts this year alone.
It’s silky smooth because Lanny draws each heart, cuts it out, and sands it using three different grits of sandpaper.
One heart takes about 20 minutes to make.
Woodworking has always been Lanny’s passion.
Growing up on a farm in Oregon, he made popcorn bowls and truck racks to transport livestock to the fair.
He is now using his talents to improve the lives of strangers.
“I work hard to make sure that everyone has a heart. Any person I come into contact with, a waitress, a store clerk, and little kids. Lanny makes sure that their mom is okay with it and asks if they want a little heart.
He never leaves the house without a pocket full of hearts.
He gave a woman in line at Costco a heart marked with a knot recently.
“I gave it to her and she began to cry. ‘There’s a hole in my heart from when my son died last year,'” said Lanny.
Lanny donated his wood hearts to several local schools about a decade ago.
When a student has a tough time, counselors will break out the heart collection and ask them to choose one to keep.
“Each school counselor has a story to tell. In one instance, a little boy came into the office of a school counselor unhappy, and they let him pick a heart. “It has my angel on it,” the boy said, looking at the grain of the wood.
These moments are what keep Lanny in the woodshop, sanding, cutting, and sanding a little more so each heart is just right.
Everyone has a pocket-sized reminder of how much they are loved.
“It’s worth the effort. It makes me want to keep going. So many people have broken hearts.” “It’s not about me; it’s about the heart,” Lanny said.