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Local volunteers celebrate healthcare workers

by Lynn Atkins | September 8, 2021 at 5:28 a.m.
Photo submitted Last week 23 volunteers spent four hours packing 400 gift boxes to thank the staff at Mercy Hospital.

It was as simple as putting a notice on a Facebook page. Carla Weeks wanted to do something to help the front-line workers who are fighting covid 19. A member of the Facebook group, Positively Bella Vista, Weeks knew exactly where to start.

The short post on Positively Bella Vista brought her not only volunteers but also a name for the group, Bella Vista Cares. She also reached out to a group of beginning pickleball players she volunteered to coach. While one of her new volunteers, a graphic designer, worked on a logo for the group, Weeks called around to healthcare organizations.

Mercy responded in the form of Nicole Crawford, the director of operations for the Mercy Foundation. Together, Weeks and Crawford agreed on a plan. Weeks and Bella Vista Cares started collecting items for care packages for the team at Mercy Hospital.

Some of the volunteers contacted businesses and picked up those donations. Others went door to door and asked neighbors to help. Weeks' guest room started to fill up with toiletries, snacks, bottled water and gift cards.

Many people donated cash or gift cards. When Weeks took the funds to Sam's, she received a donation from that business too. Unexpectedly, people stopped her while she was shopping for items to fill the boxes and insisted on donating money.

The boxes were filled with everything from protein bars and bottled water to hygiene items for staff members who can't get home to shower. Each box also contained a handwritten thank you note from the volunteers.

The care packages will go to doctors and nurses, but Weeks didn't want to stop there. There are many other people working with high-risk covid patients, including lab workers, respiratory therapists and housekeeping staff.

"Our support staff is very much a part of the team," Crawford said, although they are sometimes neglected when the community says thank you.

"It means a lot to them," she said.

It took eleven vehicles to transport and deliver all the boxes on Thursday. Now, the group is getting ready to do it all over again for the staff at Northwest Hospital in Bentonville.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista
Carla Weeks (center) motions towards a van filled with boxes for hospital employees at the entrance to Mercy Hospital last week.
Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Carla Weeks (center) motions towards a van filled with boxes for hospital employees at the entrance to Mercy Hospital last week.

Print Headline: Local volunteers celebrate healthcare workers

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