MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The 29th annual "Works of Heart" is underway with more than 90 pieces of heart-themed and shaped artwork up for bid. This year's event is all virtual with all proceeds benefitting the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.
Most of the children seen at the center have suffered from sexual abuse, the center said. The center works to end abuse through prevention, education and intervention.
Works of Heart allows the community to play a role in the work MCAC does by contributing financially.
Memphis Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Virginia Stallworth said 40% of the center's funding is governmental or public and 60% private.
"Works of Hearts is an important piece of that 60% of private funding that helps be here to help victimized kids find safety, healing, justice," she said. "There’s incredible artwork.”
Ahead of Valentine's Day, artists either decorated a 12-inch wooden heart or they let hearts inspire their work with sculptures, painting and jewelry.
The pieces went live on the virtual auction block on Sunday which saw nearly 500 bids come through, the center hopes to carry the momentum going through the end of the week when the auction ends on Valentine's Day at 5 p.m.
“This is gallery-quality artwork," Stallworth said. "There are artists that are participating, who have participated for years, who have their own galleries, who make a living as an artist with their art. This is not amateur. This is really fine art.”
Proceeds from the event also go to help the center's Stewards of Children training sessions, now virtual. Stallworth said the center relies on help from the community in protecting children. The training, which is free, helps adults prevent or respond to child abuse.
“We rely on our community members to be watching out for kids in their neighborhoods, to be aware and making reports, if they’re concerned a child is in danger," she said.
Stallworth said according to national statistics, 50% of child abuse calls come from teachers who notice behavioral or physical changes in children. While 2020 saw a reduced number of abuse reports, Stallworth said reports are still coming in from teachers instructing students virtually.
"So its not completely unreasonable to think that a teacher can see something and do something," she said.
People can also fund-a-need instead of bidding on artwork that goes toward covering cab rides to a child's appointment, therapy, interpret services and specialized interviews which creates a safe space for children during an abuse investigation.
To learn more about Works of Heart, to view the artwork and start bidding; click here. Proxy bidding is also available.
To learn more about free virtual training to help prevent or respond to child abuse victims; click here.