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WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- For the past week, a group called "Friends of the Frontline" is working to lift the spirits of hospital workers and first responders in Butler and Warren Counties.
The group has been collecting donations and working with local restaurants to provide lunch for people on the forefront of the healthcare crisis. They start deliveries at the West Chester location of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday.
“I was sitting at home in confinement, like everybody else, and I posted on our community Facebook group -- within an hour, I had 100 people say 'yes, I’d love to do this,'” Friends of the Frontline founder Kerri McKenna said.
McKenna said she hopes a free meal can make a small difference for those working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea came to her after her husband was laid off a week ago.
“It was kind of that moment of, this is getting real,” McKenna said. “This is starting to get a little frightening."
With the help of some friends, she formed Friends of the Frontline.
“I like to give back and help take care of others when I’m in a moment of feeling a little down to myself,” McKenna said.
They’re set to deliver boxed lunches from local restaurants to several hospitals including UC West Chester Hospital, Christ Hospital’s Liberty Campus, Bethesda North, and Jewish Hospital.
“My friend works at the emergency department at UC West Chester, and they’re under intense pressure, stress,” McKenna said. “They have fear and anything we can do to support them, encourage and let them know we’re with them.”
They have a plan for Easter involving goods from several local bakeries. The Donut Shop in Lebanon is pitching in 500 donuts at a discounted rate, even though the store is going through tough times as well.
“I’ve had to lay off people,” The Donut Shop owner Pam Ullum said. “I cut two days a week off of our business. We lost a large delivery account."
Ullum said it’s the least she could do.
“If I can help out in some small way – we have a lot of doctors and nurses that come through the shop and support us, so why not support them?” Ullum said. “They’re putting their lives on the line for us.”
McKenna said she's raised close to $1,500 after only a week.
“We say it all the time, the ‘it takes a village’ concept," McKenna said. "But right now we’re actually living that."
People looking to donate to or be involved with the Friends of the Frontline can reach the group on their Facebook page.