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10 Ways to Show Your Appreciation for Seattle-Area Essential Workers

Simple ideas for your family to give thanks to frontline workers

Published on: January 21, 2021

Photo courtesy of We Got This Seattle. Photographer: Theodore Bickel, ICHS

Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are indebted to essential workers who’ve stocked and sold us groceries, tended our dental and medical issues, removed trash, put out fires and taught our children. So, how do we repay the people who hazard their own health to keep society up and running?

For medical workers — and the wider community — the most important gift we can give is to continue wearing masks and keeping our distance from others. But if you’re looking for ways to show your appreciation beyond helping stop the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve curated few ideas.

1. Donations and tips

First, before sending muffins to hospital nursing staff or handing gift cards to phlebotomists, do a little research to find out what can be accepted. Most hospitals and medical centers do not allow personnel to accept cash or gifts. At the University of Washington, you can recognize an employee and give a monetary gift to UW Medicine in honor of staff members. Swedish hospitals host a similar program through their medical center foundation.

Other essential workers like mail carriers can accept offerings worth up to $20, but no cash, or cards used as cash such as Visa and Mastercard. Area Kroger stores, which include Fred Meyer and QFC, do not allow their employees to accept tips, but Seattle Public School teachers are permitted to receive gifts from families and community members as long as those gifts don’t exceed a $100 in value from one family in one school year.

2. Feed frontline workers

Consider a contribution to We Got This Seattle, which Ellen Kuwana started in March 2020. She began by delivering Pagliacci-donated pizzas to UW’s virology lab personnel processing COVID-19 tests. Her organization and mission have expanded to feed everyone involved in caring for COVID-19 patients from healthcare workers to cleaners. Select from various donation tiers to send sustenance to our healthcare heroes. Frontline Foods, a national organization with a Seattle chapter, also welcomes donations to nourish medical staff at more than 25 local sites.

3. Make masks

Before an adequate PPE supply became available, the Providence 100 million mask project put out a call asking community crafters to sew surgical masks. Now that PPE is easier to come by, hospitals may have what they need, but many shelters and community service centers still require facial coverings. Sign up to stitch masks or look into donating to the Helping Hands Fund for Providence employees financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

4. Meal delivery services

When essential workers get precious time off, the last thing many of them want to do is cook. A meal delivery service gift card will allow them to receive pre-measured ingredients along with recipes to whip up their own nutritious dishes. Consider Home Chef, Sun Basket for meal kits and Freshly for fully cooked meals that only need to be reheated.

5. Give blood

Help doctors and nurses to help others by giving blood. There is an ongoing, sometimes dire, need for whole blood and platelets. Additionally, Bloodworks Northwest’s COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma donations boost COVID-19 patients’ recoveries and assist researchers with understanding how humans respond to the novel coronavirus.

6. Studies and trials

Enrolling in a treatment trial, observational study or vaccine trial is a crucial way to help end the pandemic. Fred Hutch has several to choose from. Helping to get the pandemic under control is, let’s face it, the best present we can give any frontline worker. 

7. Child care

Help fund child care, through Seattle YMCA, for first responders, medical personnel and other essential workers who are often working longer and harder than ever before.

8. Cards and signs

Old fashioned thank-you cards and signs are simple, sweet gestures and easy to purchase or make yourself. Involving the kids will model appreciation and get them off screens for a little while: a win-win project.

9. Care packages

Assemble a care package for a teacher or another essential worker you know. Items that might be appreciated are activities and distractions for kids like a paint by sticker book that keeps little hands busy, comfy slippers or Crocs to soothe tired feet, a water bottle for staying hydrated and spa products for rare moments of relaxation.

10. Meal train

If you’ve cleared that meal donations are allowed and want to set up your own deliveries, you can find various online tools to help you organize drop-offs such as Meal Train and Sign Up Genius

Whatever path you take to show appreciation for the people keeping our community fed and functioning, know that following the CDC guidelines to prevent COVID-19 infection is the best way we can lighten the burden on our healthcare system and give back to the front-liners helping us every day.

Jeffrey Robinson headshotIf you care, show up:

It’s not enough to say we care. We have to show up. If you’ve committed to doing more to end racism in the U.S., join ParentMap on Feb. 24 for a free ParentEd Talk, “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism,” featuring founder and activist Jeffery Robinson.

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