Like so many, Caroline Few Elliott has been working from home reading the increasingly bad news about the pandemic paralyzing us all. As a former pediatric nurse, she knows well that it can be a stressful, thankless job even when there is not a killer virus. Caroline and her husband, Frank, were also seeing news of their favorite restaurants closing. Caroline wondered if there was a way to help both the struggling restaurants and those on the front lines.
It was an Instagram post by their Wyoming friend and wedding photographer who was delivering coffee and bagels to the local hospital in Jackson Hole that gave Caroline the idea.
Why not order meals from local restaurants and deliver the love to local hospitals?
Her first thought was that this a one-time delivery. Knowing each hospital unit has about 20 employees, Caroline messaged friends and family hoping to get enough support to do 100 meals for 1 hospital for 1 day that would feed 4-5 shifts.
“I thought we could take care of the ICU and ER shifts at one hospital,” Caroline said.
Generosity overwhelmed her Venmo account and now, it has grown much bigger than Caroline ever imagined and she has set up a GoFundMe page. Caroline’s project has struck a chord with friends not only in Charlotte but all over the world. As her message was shared with others, Caroline received donations from friends all over the U.S. and even friends abroad in London.
From that first social media request, Caroline had enough money to make many more meal deliveries to Atrium and Novant which began last week. The first delivery of love was Thursday, March 26th with 100 boxed meals from Reid’s and Friday, 100 meals from Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen treated the team.
As the donations rolled in, Caroline had to create a spreadsheet to track not only the money but all the deliveries she would be now be setting up—over 1000 thank you meals delivered over the next 10 days.
“It was a little overwhelming,” she admitted. “My brother, Jack, is very tech-savvy and he has been helping organize my spreadsheet.”
Caroline and Frank were planning to make the deliveries themselves, until COVID-19 struck them personally. Wednesday, the day before their first planned delivery, Caroline found out Frank had been directly exposed to the coronavirus. He is awaiting test results and they are both now quarantining in their home, hoping for the best.
“I was so bummed out not to see it through and make that delivery myself, but our friends have jumped in,” Caroline said. “It is a huge testament to how much people want to help.”
From donations, to deliveries to neighborhood children creating cards to go with the meals, Caroline’s project has helped not only the nurses and doctors but so many who were looking for a way to give back. So many of us feel a sense of helplessness and projects like these are tangible ways to support those risking the most.
“They deserve the love,” Caroline says of the healthcare workers. “Many of them are experiencing anxiety for the first time in their careers. By doing their job, they might also be exposing their families.”
A nurse herself, Caroline is managing all this at the same time she balances her full-time job in healthcare with a fertility clinic. There is a different kind of stress and anxiety now in her day-job as Caroline must call families to tell them their dreams of having a child must be put on hold until the crisis is over.
While balancing both her paid work and her volunteer goodwill project has been overwhelming, Caroline remains positive. And buoyed by all the support, she is dreaming bigger than her initial 1 day goal of providing 100 meals. Her new vision is 30 days of 100 meals, 3000 thank-yous, to match our new statewide order of sheltering at home until April 30, 2020. For these 3,000 healthcare hero thank you’s, Caroline is raising hoping to raise $30,000.
“Charlotte is our community and nurses are my people,” she says. “I am not on the front line any more so I want to help those who are. We have to be there to thank them for being there for us.”
Want to help? Caroline has set up a Go Fund Me #CLTStrong: Stay Healthy. Stay Home. Eat Local.
Her site has details of how to you can donate money to cover the cost of the meals and she is collecting art from children as thank cards for our healthcare heroes!