After reading early this week that an elementary school in Billings is taking on the Paper Hearts Across America project, teachers and students in Sidney decided to take part in the effort.

The Thompson family started the project in Billings with the help of area schools and businesses. The goal is to gather nearly 19 million six-inch wide paper hearts, which is roughly the amount it would take to put them from Billings to Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed at school Dec. 14.

Sidney’s students started tackling their share of the project Tuesday. Nicole Simonsen, a first-grade teacher in Sidney, mailed the hearts to Billings on Thursday. Her goal was 500 hearts, and Sidney’s students created 1,480 hearts.

“There are teachers in every building doing this,” Simonsen said about Sidney’s schools’ interest.

She said her class hasn’t formally talked about the tragedy that killed 20 elementary students. Simonsen added at times a student would say something like she saw something on television, “But this isn’t about the news, but about a positive thing we can do,” Simonsen said.

The idea came from the documentary “Paper Clips,” where students in Tennessee collected six million paperclips to honor of the six million Jewish people killed in the Holocaust.

“We’re just trying to send some of our love and hearts to help their healing,” Simonsen said.