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Posted: February 14, 2013 11:08 p.m.

A special Valentine's Day downtown

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Many people have walked the streets of the Covington Square and have witnessed the décor in the window of the Southern Heartland Gallery change with the seasons. However, on Valentine’s Day afternoon, they may have noticed a couple cozied up together having lunch amongst flowers, hearts and art.

It’s a lunch that started off as an act of kindness from one friend to another. Christopher Glass, 22, and Earl Downard, 22, said they have become really close friends over the years as they both grew up together in foster care and attended school at Project Adventure, a private nonprofit teaching organization.

Glass helped set up a nice lunch at Southern Heartland Art Gallery for Downard and Downard’s girlfriend, Kelli Hardy, for Valentine’s Day. Glass said he wanted to do something nice for Downard because he had been a really good friend over the years.

“I was just trying to show support for his relationship, because we have been through so much together,” Glass said.

On Thursday, Downard and Hardy, 20, dined on a Mexican fiesta chicken, a lunch cooked by Downard, at the art gallery, which was transformed into a sweetheart haven for the couple. Red hearts led the path to a table for two with wine and lunch waiting.

While they enjoyed their meal, a hostess from the art gallery presented the couple with a picture of their lunch together and Hardy was given a pair of “The Valentine Heart” earrings, designed by artist Pat Free.

Hardy said she was shocked to visit the gallery and find a special Valentine’s Day surprise waiting just for her. Coincidentally, the couple met at another business on the square, Square Perk, and said they have been inseparable ever since. It was the couple’s first Valentine’s Day together.

“It’s awesome and it was really cool,” Hardy said. “No one has ever done anything like this for me ever. It was really sweet and creative.”

When it comes to Downard and Glass’ friendship, Downard said it was nice to have a friend who supported him, and he appreciated Glass for helping him put the surprise together.

“It shows how good of a friend that I have been to him and he’s been just as great of a friend,” Downard said. “I don’t mind doing for him, because I know that he’s there for me too.”

Downard, of Covington, is a construction worker. Hardy, of Oxford, is a cosmetology student, who recently attended Georgia Perimeter College.

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