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Christine Danderand knows firsthand just how challenging coronavirus can be. This past October, the Nebraska-based makeup artist, her husband, and their daughter all contracted COVID-19.
Thankfully, the family is recovering and no one was hospitalized, but Danderand also gained keen personal insight about the demands on frontline pandemic workers from a source that’s close to home: Her mother is a registered nurse who deals with COVID patients on a day-to-day basis.
As she witnessed as long hours and unrelenting pressure began taking their heavy emotional toll on her mom, Danderand knew she had to do something to help.
“I just saw how kind of stressed and overworked [she] and her co-workers were and I thought, you know, what’s a way that we can give back and show support,” she told CNN.
With that goal in mind, Danderand launched a Facebook giving page where nurses and other healthcare workers would register to be “adopted” by members of the public who wanted to let them know just how much their hard work was appreciated.
Soon after, the newly appointed adoptees put up profiles along with Amazon wish lists and adopters got busy sending box after box of holiday cheer along with heartfelt messages of thanks and encouragement.
“If you read a lot of the Amazon links, they want compression socks, or a new pair of shoes, or a coffee mug, candy,” Danderland said. “Just little things that kind of brighten their spirits when they get home from work at the end of the day.”
ICU Nurse Kelly Langel was urged to sign up for the program by the family of a COVID patient she’d cared for. Not long after she did, a very special care package showed up at her door.
“She felt it in her heart to reach out and adopt me,” Langel told Inside Edition as she displaying gifts that included soap, lotion, lip balm, an assortment of tea, a cheery mug, and a Christmas ornament. “It’s very humbling.”
“I came home from my fourth, 12-hour shift in a row to this amazing gift package,” healthcare worker Stephanie Healey posted to Facebook. “Your generosity has blown me away. I hope you realize how much this means.”
While Danderand’s initial aim was to bring holiday cheer to the hospital staff where her mom works, the idea took off. Within three weeks, her group had more than 12,000 members.
Whether or not hers was the first such group, similar ones have been springing up across the country. If you want to join the movement, check your social media for local adopt-a-nurse initiatives—or why not start an adopt-a-frontline-worker group of your own?