Although Valentine’s Day exemplifies the way American culture prioritizes romantic love and couple-dom over every other kind of relationship, love is an incredibly expansive concept.
For example, philosopher and activist Cornel West has said “justice is what love looks like in public.”
Thinking along those lines, below are a few ways Pittsburghers can send platonic love and solidarity to people who need a little extra care this February.
Send a card to an incarcerated person
The Let’s Get Free Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee is coordinating a Valentine’s Day project to send greeting cards to 312 people incarcerated in Pennsylvania prisons. They recommend steering away from “traditional Valentine's language” to make it clear the cards are not a romantic gesture, and instead use words like “solidarity,” “support,” and “friendship.” See their Facebook post below for more information/instructions.
You can also make a longer-term commitment to building a friendship with an incarcerated person. Check out Abolition Apostles, a group that pairs people with incarcerated penpals.
Donate to a mutual aid project
Local mutual aid projects focused on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations are accepting monetary donations to support their work.
The Sex Workers Outreach Project — Pittsburgh administers a mutual aid fund, offering grants of $50-$200 to sex workers residing in the greater Pittsburgh area. They accept donations via Venmo @SWOPPittsburgh or CashApp at $SWOPPGH with the caption “mutual aid.”
Steel City Food Not Bombs regularly distributes hot food, toiletries, menstrual projects, and other survival supplies to unhoused people around the city of Pittsburgh. They accept donations via Venmo @PGHFNB or CashApp at $PGHFNB. They also have an Amazon wishlist for winter gear and clothes.
Volunteer to bring comfort and cheerThe Still Remembered Project offers support to people who have experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. On Tue., Feb. 14, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., they will host volunteers to assemble miscarriage care packages at their Bethel Park location. They request volunteers register online in advance. Beverly’s Birthdays, a local nonprofit that offers birthday parties for children experiencing homelessness and/or financial insecurity, needs volunteers to help facilitate their February birthday parties, which are planned throughout the month.