By Gabriel Stovall
It wasn’t hard for Judy Cape to get excited about this opportunity to give back.
Cape, a collegiate and volunteer opportunities coordinator, is used to organizing outreach opportunities for people all over North America. But this time, she didn’t have to look any further than her own Send Relief coworkers at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
Last weekend, Cape, along with the Send Relief team, helped organize a project that gave NAMB and Send Relief employees the opportunity to assemble care packages for hospital workers throughout the state of Georgia.
In all, 21 NAMB staff members and their families, plus several Send Relief team members, had a hand in making 2,000 care packages. These care packages will be distributed from NAMB headquarters to various locations, including locally with 500 going to the Wellstar Hospital system. Another 200 will be delivered to hospitals in partnership with North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and 50 care packages will go to the Ethne Health Clinic in Clarkston, Georgia.
1,000 care packages are also being sent to the Send Relief ministry center in New Orleans for distribution to healthcare workers in that city, one of the U.S. hotspots for coronavirus.
An additional 250 packages will be donated for distribution through Governors’ offices in Georgia, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.
The care packages contained everything from ibuprofen and toothbrushes to snacks and flavored tea bags. Each bag also contains notes of encouragement designed to boost the spirits of doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners working to save lives.
Employees drove to the NAMB offices last Friday to pick up their care package materials to take home for assembly. Many involved their spouses and children in the process.
“It really is heartwarming to see people living out their life’s work in ministry to have a hands-on experience to serve others in a tangible way, even while they’re wearing gloves and masks,” Cape said. “Even when they can’t see the people that they’re helping in person.”
Atlanta area staff weren’t the only ones showing love to hospital workers. Send Relief’s Appalachia ministry center assembled 2,000 care packages that will be given to healthcare workers locally and through the ministry centers in Pittsburgh and New York City.
Jason Tipton, Send Relief’s national ministry center director for the Western U.S., has watched with joy as churches in the Denver, Colorado, area are also responding.
“Currently, we are working with five churches who have adopted two hospitals and five nursing homes,” Tipton said. He is organizing the assembly of 1,000 care packages for healthcare workers in the Denver area. “Our church leaders have been crucial in identifying the best pathways for distribution. Most have come through healthcare workers who are part of their churches.”
The Denver area distribution will take place next week, and Tipton calls it a perfect opportunity to show people Jesus instead of just preaching with words alone.
“This is a great opportunity for us to affirm those who are on the front lines of serving our community,” he said. “It’s an additional tangible way to say, ‘thank you.’”
Tipton said he’s also praying for God to use these difficult times to draw more people to Him.
“Every pastor here is hoping that God will use this strange season to stir the hearts of our cities and communities toward Him,” Tipton said.
For both Tipton and Cape, this particular act of kindness hits home in a personal way. Tipton says some of his closest friends work in the healthcare industry, while Cape has a family member who’s right in the thick of things at a metro Atlanta hospital.
“Having a niece that works at Northside Hospital, I know all of what we’re doing will mean a lot to everyone who receives not just the small items in the package, but the note cards that tell them that someone is praying for them and truly cares for them,” she said. “I believe it will mean a great deal to them.”
Gabriel Stovall writes for the North American Mission Board.