It’s been a difficult year for nurses and frontline healthcare workers, but 2020 is still considered the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. As we wind down a truly unbelievable year, some people are spending the holidays honoring the brave women and men who have been tirelessly fighting the coronavirus.
That’s exactly what Christine Danderand had in mind when she started the “Adopt a Nurse/Healthcare Worker” campaign earlier this year. Participants can send their love and gratitude to nurses and providers all over the country on Facebook in the form of gifts, essential medical supplies, and other must-have equipment.
If you could use a Secret Santa this year, this campaign is for you.
Adopting a Healthcare Worker
Christine Danderand knows just how hard nurses have been working over the last ten months. Her mom, Geri Dooling, has been trying to save as many lives as possible in rural Omaha, Nebraska, along with her colleagues.
That’s when she decided to set up an “Adopt a Nurse” page on Facebook. “I just saw how kind of stressed and overworked her and her co-workers were, and I thought, you know, what’s a way that we can give back and show support,” she said about the idea.
She was only expecting a few friends to see the post on social media, but it quickly took off and developed a life of its own. The page has grown to over 12,000 members in just three weeks, and hundreds of healthcare workers have already been adopted.
“We lost count when we hit a thousand,” Danderand said.
Nurses haven’t had the time to go shopping, whether it’s for themselves or their loved ones, but Danderand wants these essential workers to celebrate the holidays just like everyone else.
Frontline workers upload information about themselves, including a link to their Amazon Wishlist, which is full of ordinary items that nurses need to do their jobs.
“If you read a lot of the Amazon links, they want compression socks, or a new pair of shoes, or a coffee mug, candy,” she said. “Just little things that kind of brighten their spirits when they get home from work at the end of the day.”
Some donors have adopted more than one provider, if not an entire hospital wing, sending gifts to every member of the team.
The page has evolved beyond gift-giving. It’s also become a place where people can share their love and admiration of healthcare workers.
“It’s not just a gifting page anymore. It’s something where they’ve got support from their peers,” Danderand added.
As the administrator of the group, Danderand has been amassing a group of volunteers to help with some of the responsibilities.
She recently got Kris Epps-Martinez, a hospice nurse, to help with all the busy work. “I got a coloring book for nurses and I got a lunch box because I travel a lot for work,” Epps-Martinez said. She wants to give back to her colleagues as a way of paying it forward.
“I deal with death all the time,” Epps-Martinez added. “These other nurses aren’t used to this. It’s hard on them. They deal with death, but not like this.”
How to Get Started
Whether you’re looking to join the club, read some inspiring messages, or have a gift delivered to your door, visit the official Facebook page to learn more about the group.
You’ll see dozens of messages and photos from healthcare providers looking to share their experiences from the front lines, such as this post from Elsa Kendrick:
“I am an RN in a trauma/surgical/neuro ICU in Akron, Ohio. This past November marks my one year anniversary of nursing, and one year ago I never could have imagined how crazy of a ride it was going to be. Working in an ICU as a new graduate nurse already seemed like a challenge, and throwing a pandemic on top of that? Well, let’s just say it certainly hasn’t been an easy year. It’s been a year of miracles, lots of tears, delirious 3 AM laughter with coworkers, PPE & lack thereof, communicating with family from afar while their loved ones die alone, constant policy changes, flexibility, and an insane amount of learning. I’m freaking exhausted—we all are. But given the choice, I’d do it all over again, because the miracles I’ve seen this year and the love that I have shared make it worth it.
I’m a single mother to my four-year-old daughter Harper, and she has struggled, cried, and laughed with me throughout the past year too. But all of us nurses must be doing something right because we’ve inspired her enough to want to be a nurse when she grows up, too.”
It didn’t take long for someone to adopt Kendrick. Many people posted their praise and admiration for Kendrick and her family in the comments section.
User Carolyn Pannone quickly commented, “I have adopted you. Look for one package for you and one for Harper coming this week.”
User Amber Boswell Freitas added, “Thank you for all you have done and continue to do. Your scissors and badge holder are on the way! You deserve so much more. Merry Christmas.❤️Amber (Tracy, CA)”
Consider sharing your story on “Adopt a Nurse” and spread the word online, so these amazing providers have everything they need to do the job.