HAVERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Esther Cohen-Eskin never expected to encounter hate so deep in Havertown.
“I guess I just didn’t think people were that hateful.”
But last Friday, Esther woke up to a swastika sprayed onto her trash can.
Her family and community were horrified.
Jenny Farley, a neighbor, says, “I was completely shocked. I couldn’t believe it.”
Esther reported the hateful vandalism to police. They tell Eyewitness News her property was the only one tagged.
One might assume she would then lead the charge to find the culprit, but Esther had a different idea.
“I called my dear friend, who is also my neighbor, and he reminded me that love always triumphs hate.”
She continues, “Then my neighbor drove by and she said ‘just put a smiley face on it.’”
An artist by trade, Esther did one better.
She turned a hateful symbol into a piece of art, and encouraged her neighbors to do the same.
She walked door to door with letters, and her daughters helped her post the request on social media.
“Paint something on your trash can,” Esther wrote on Facebook. “We can, in our little way, turn this symbol of hate into something beautiful.”
Esther says, “Within minutes, people were outside painting their trash cans.”
The post has been liked close to 1,500 times and shared across the country.
“In San Francisco a synagogue actually used this story as their service,” Esther says.
She has also received dozens of photos from friends who have answered the call, along with support from neighbors like Kai and his mom.
“The flowers I painted,” Kai says.
Jenny Farley says, “There is no place for hate anywhere, but there is especially no place for hate here.”
Esther’s family is humbled by the support.
Her husband, Gregg Eskin, says, “It’s really heartwarming. It’s fantastic.”
They hope this serves as a reminder to all. “It just takes a small act of goodness to make you feel better in a world where there is so much negativity.”
Esther has gotten messages from Canada and Ireland, too.
She says she can’t open her phone without seeing more photos of beautiful, painted trash cans spreading the message of love.