Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexicans may disagree on a great many things – from politics to sports to green versus red – but one thing they’ve shown during this COVID-19 virus crisis is that they are abundantly generous in showing appreciation for our front-line workers.
Area police and fire departments, hospitals and ambulance services have all seen an outpouring of gifts from private citizens, businesses, organizations and churches, expressing their thanks with donations of personal protection equipment, bouquets of flowers, handwritten notes and copious amounts of food.
Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland provided meals from Monroe’s restaurant to workers at Lovelace Women’s Hospital; Mario’s Pizza and Ristorante delivered 100 hot pizzas to the staff at University of New Mexico Hospital; and Dunkin’ Donuts served doughnuts and coffee to Presbyterian Hospital employees to “express gratitude, support and encouragement to health-care workers in the community,” said local franchise owner Alim Haji.
“We are so appreciative of the many individuals and companies that have provided delicious meals and snacks, handwritten cards, critical supplies like gloves and masks, financial gifts and so much more,” said Carolyn Green, chief nursing officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services.
“On behalf of our staff and clinicians, I want to thank each and every one of you. … This means the world to us at this difficult time.”
In addition to food, gifts to local hospitals have included medical, construction and handmade face masks, face shields, gloves, coveralls and gowns, storage containers, hospital beds, hand sanitizer, stress balls and CPAP machines.
Ron Stern, president and CEO of Lovelace Health System, said that additionally large, handmade signs of support have been erected by neighbors in the communities surrounding its hospitals.
“It has been a testament to the kindness and resilience of Albuquerque during tough times,” Stern said. “Our city truly has come together in a time of need.”
Kate Becker, chief executive officer for University of New Mexico Hospitals, said employees particularly appreciate the donations of personal protective equipment, and they are gratified by the generosity of citizens and businesses who have donated food, “and who sent thank-you cards for our health-care workers during these challenging times.”
“We are very grateful for your support,” she said. “We’re all in this together.”
Albuquerque Ambulance Service, a division of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, received donations of face masks as well as lunch bags decorated by kids from a local neighborhood and stuffed with snacks. They also enjoyed sandwiches and lunch items from O’Niell’s Pub and 50 pounds of ribs and hot link sausages from the Quarters BBQ restaurant.
“We just wanted to do something nice for a really nice group of people at a really difficult time, so it was a pleasure,” said Quarters owner Connie Nellos, who regularly donates to different community organizations through a company fund.
Area police and fire departments saw their fair share of food and masks. In addition, the Albuquerque Police Department received donations of cash.
An anonymous $10,000 donation was made to the APD Chaplain’s Fund, which was then used to purchase non-perishable goods and paper goods for vulnerable senior citizens.
A $2,000 donation from the Good Samaritan Society was made to APD’s Southeast Area Command to assist with community outreach.
“Our officers and first-responders are always willing to put themselves at risk to keep the community safe,” said APD Chief Michael Geier. “It is gratifying to see the public show support for that work and the sacrifices from officers. This is one of the reasons we focus so much on community policing, because we need these partnerships and the trust from the people we serve.”
Among the food donations to Albuquerque Fire Rescue were meals provided by City Councilors Diane Gibson and Lan Sena. AFR also received more than 160 gallons of hand sanitizer, of which 60 gallons were donated by Broken Trail Brewery and made locally.
“We are thankful for the outpouring of support from the community over the past several weeks,” said AFR Chief Paul Dow. “Our first responders who are going out every day to make sure our community stays safe truly appreciate these thoughtful contributions from the public.”
The Rio Rancho police and fire departments also saw an outpouring of donations and support from the community.
“The men and women of Rio Rancho Fire Rescue continue to respond to emergencies across our community during a time in which we are facing incredible challenges,” Fire Chief Paul Bearce said.
“The kindness we have experienced through an outpouring of donations and outreach has made it easier for our firefighters to do their jobs. Our crews certainly appreciate the meals, but the donation of PPE is making it safer for them to perform their duties,” he said.