AKRON, Ohio — As COVID-19 numbers continue to surge in Ohio, more hospital workers are talking or posting on social media about the physical and emotional toll the virus is taking on those working on the front lines during the pandemic.
The struggle hasn't gone unnoticed by two Northeast Ohio mothers who have spearheaded a drive to collect healthy snacks for nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers at two Akron hospitals.
Lynette Francis, of Wadsworth, posted a request on Facebook for items like granola bars, crackers and trail mix.
Family and friends quickly responded and sent her several boxes of snacks.
Francis has friends who are nurses and has heard difficult stories about them working under extremely stressful circumstances.
In recent weeks, leaders from many hospitals and health departments have raised concerns about capacity as healthcare systems experience a rise in the number of COVID-19 positive patients.
"I know my one friend, she talks about there's just no time to use bathrooms, let alone eat during these shifts," Francis said.
Francis's friend, Sarah Noirot, of Green, shared the post on the Green Moms Facebook page and took the request for snack foods a step further.
"I set up an Amazon wish list and people could donate that way since it was socially distanced and easy for people to do," Noirot said.
More boxes of snacks were delivered to Noirot's home. On top of that, the city of Green set up a bin outside of Central Administration building to bring in more donations.
Valerie Wolford, a spokesperson for Green, shared the idea with Joe Swiatkowski, the president and CEO of Hickory Harvest Foods in Akron and the acts of kindness continued to grow from there.
The company, which manufactures and processes foods like chocolate pretzels, honey cashews, trail mix and banana chips, donated about 500 packages of snacks to the cause earlier this week.
For Swiatkowski, helping out the healthcare workers is meaningful and personal.
"My wife is medical at Children's Hospital, so that's a big part of what we do and I have a lot of friends at the hospitals," he said. "I've talked to some of the doctors, and especially the one that are first responders in the ER rooms. They're having just a heck of a time with this and having to deal with it. They're putting their own lives on the line."
Francis has been touched by the outpouring of support and said the food will be delivered to Summa Akron City Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Akron General on Monday or Tuesday of Christmas week.
"It's amazing. I wasn't expecting to see all those boxes being donated," Francis said.
Noirot, who is a nurse but not currently working, believes the food will help boost the energy and the spirits of the healthcare workers at a time when they need it the most.
"There are so many different ways to help people, so it's nice that they're focusing on our nurses. They're important and they're being recognized."
Snack donations will be accepted outside of Green's Central Administration Building located at 1755 Town Park Blvd. from Dec. 18 through Dec. 21 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.