By Brandon Elrod
ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Send Relief volunteers in Denver, Ashland, Ky., and Alpharetta, Ga., have assembled care packages that are being distributed to healthcare workers and first responders who are on the forefront of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The bags will go to hard-hit areas such as New York City and New Orleans as well as different hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation.
“Jesus gave his life for us, and this is a way that we can give to others,” said Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief. “Jesus teaches us that one way we can love God is to love our neighbor, especially our neighbor in need.”
Send Relief organized the project in order to encourage healthcare professionals and to demonstrate how individuals, families or local churches can come together to serve their communities.
Send Relief connected with a hospital in New York City to send the care bags to healthcare workers, and Eli Schewel, center, helped to load them into his truck and deliver them. Jess Medlock, right, is a Send Relief volunteer through Graffiti Ministries in New York City. Send Relief photo.
Taylor Field, a Send Relief missionary in New York City, coordinated with hospitals to send the care bags to frontline healthcare workers over the weekend (April 19-20). Jess Medlock, a volunteer with Field’s Graffiti Church helped load boxes of the care bags into a truck bound for local hospitals.
“A virus doesn’t mean that people don’t have needs,” Medlock said. “In fact, the needs are probably increasing. I just want to be there to help and do what I can.”
In Alpharetta, Send Relief assembled 2,000 care packages. Nearly 1,000 of those bags went to New Orleans and were distributed to three different hospitals throughout the city.
The packing event at the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) facility in Alpharetta had to shift into homes after a shelter-in-place order took effect in Georgia. NAMB and Send Relief staff joined together with their families to put various items—such as hygiene products, snacks and hand-written notes—into bags.
“Packing gifts for healthcare workers helped reset and refocus our family away from the challenges we’re facing personally to ways we can ease the burden for others,” said Faith Wroten, content manager and editor of On Mission Magazine at NAMB, who assembled bags with her family.
In Kentucky, volunteers put together 2,000 care packages, most of which went to New York City. The ministry center in Ashland was still able to host a packing event since they had enough space to practice social distancing in their warehouse.
Send Relief volunteers were able to socially distance at the ministry center in Ashland, Ky., while packing care packages for healthcare workers. The majority of bags were shipped to Send Relief ministry centers in New York City and Pittsburgh. Send Relief photo.
Along with New York City, some of the bags were sent to Pittsburgh where the Send Relief ministry center distributed them to an area hospital.
In Denver, Jason Tipton, Send Relief’s national ministry center director for the Western U.S., has been working with churches to organize a similar care package drive in their communities. They distributed bags to healthcare facilities and nursing homes around the city.
Several churches, including Orchard Church, which has multiple campuses in the greater Denver area, participated in putting bags together and delivering them around the city. One location included the Avamere Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing facility in Brighton, Colo.
The Singleton family of Orchard Church in Brighton, Colo., put together care packages for health care workers in the Denver area. Orchard delivered some of their bags to workers at a nursing facility in Denver. Photo provided by Orchard Church.
“We are grateful to partner with Send Relief to be a blessing to Avamere as they are on the frontlines of this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Orchard’s pastor, Doug Dameron. “We are a church for our community and not just in our community and this opportunity gives us a chance to live out that value and make a difference during these challenging times. We truly are better together!”
Shad Grubbs, geriatric specialist at Platte Valley Internal Medicine & Pulmonary in Brighton, Colo., serves as the medical officer at Avamere. He helped coordinate the delivery to the nursing facility.
“What a blessing it was to show up at work. I was there for 10 minutes, and I literally had 10 different employees come up to me and, with true gratitude, tell me thanks for the church providing gift bags for them,” said Grubbs. “Nursing home employees work so hard and love on their residents so much. They definitely do not receive much recognition or appreciation, especially right now with the potential dangers of COVID-19. I was encouraged to see my partners in Christ show a genuine love for others.”
Orchard Church in Brighton, Colo., with the help of Send Relief, delivered care packages to the nurses and workers at a nursing home in Brighton called Avamere Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Center. Workers expressed gratitude and were thankful to know that people were thinking of them. Photo provided by Orchard Church.
Send Relief also provides resources to help churches serve healthcare workers, vulnerable populations and those who need food during this season. Several response guides that churches, families and individuals can use to meet needs in their communities are available at www.SendRelief.org/covid-19-information/. Look for the response guides in the right-hand column.
Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.