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Care packages for caring hearts

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A health care worker’s suggestion sparked another act of Christian service in Kernersville.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in North Carolina and its feared onslaught, X-ray and MRI technologist and Triad Baptist Church member Michelle Eaton had an idea: why not lift teammates’ spirits and “help the helpers.”

“I noticed various churches tend to provide care packages to our staff throughout the year,” said Eaton, who works for Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center.

“I realized how these little bags could show big amounts of love and care to our hard-working medical team, and how beneficial they could be during this time.”

Jeremy Chandler, Triad’s creative communications director and co-leader of its Path Finders Singles Ministry, took Eaton’s idea to heart. Members like Melissa Beck and Vickie Clontz pitched in as the project grew to also include the small-group ministry Connect Group that Chandler leads too.

In a little over a week members filled enough bags to cover a conference room table.

“Jeremy first proposed the care bag project on our Path Finders Facebook page, and many said they’d be willing to help,” said Beck, who once worked at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.

“Because of the time I spent working in medical staff services, I can only imagine the hard work, exhaustion, and even fear the health care workers must be feeling,” she said. “I wanted to show my gratitude, coupled with God’s love, to the workers so that they would know that they are cared for and appreciated.”

Beck said Path Finders provided the goodies for the bags which Chandler collected at his house.

“Due to social distancing, we had to be creative about how the items were delivered,” she said. “Some of us shipped items through Amazon directly while others simply left them on his front porch.”

carebags2 (1)Each bag includes snacks such as pretzels and chips, peanut butter crackers, trail mix, candy, inspirational literature, coffee mugs, and masks made by Clontz — an award-winning fiber artist and teacher of fiber art at the Sawtooth School of Visual Art in Winston-Salem and other locations.

She was more than happy to help.

“I started making face masks when my daughter in law (a nurse in the intensive care department at her hospital) was pregnant with her first child — my first grandchild,” Clontz said. “I wanted to do my part to help her and others be safe and to aid in ‘flattening the curve.’

“Since then, I’ve probably made close to 200 masks, mostly for health care workers,” she said. “I recently also made a large batch for a group of missionaries in New York at the request of one of our church members. It’s another way I feel like I’m giving back and using my God-given gifts to help others during the pandemic.”

Chandler delivered the masks and other gifts inside the bags to Eaton and a co-worker outside Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center’s entrance.

They took the care bags inside and distributed them throughout the facility and its departments and staff.

“It was definitely a morale booster,” Eaton said. “Everyone was so grateful and repeatedly expressed their gratitude. I think it proved that in difficult times, the church is still there and caring for others.”

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new schedules, procedures, and unknowns.

“The eerie atmosphere and the increased level of uncertainty has created additional stress,” Eaton said, ““but the gift baskets provided reassuring support from our local church.

“The medical field is a very tough yet rewarding profession. Due the type of work we encounter, it can sometimes be emotionally stressful. However, we do what we do because we enjoy helping people in difficult times. Sometimes the helpers need help too, and it’s great to be part of a church who showed up to do just that.”

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