Woman raises money to feed New West hospital workers

She’s bringing a hero for the heroes.

The frontline workers at Royal Columbian Hospital are getting a free sandwich, in a tasty show of gratitude for all they’re doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New Westminster’s Helen Jennings wanted to show her support and appreciation to hospital workers.

A former emergency ward nurse, Jennings posted her idea online about providing a free lunch for staff at RCH and was surprised at how quickly the call was answered.

“I put the word out through the Helping Hands (Facebook page) and the money came rolling in,” said Jennings. “It was just wonderful.”

In just over two days, she collected $1,400 from 30 people towards the meal.

So Friday’s (tomorrow’s) lunch of hero sandwiches will be free for workers at the New West hospital.

Her position as a tele-nurse at HealthLink BC gives her an appreciation for what those at the hospital are enduring. While she works from home and has felt the impact of concerned callers fearing they have COVID-19, she knows her job is a step removed from the frontlines.

“It’s different than working at the hospital. We’re dealing with people who are waiting hours to talk with us, but it’s nothing like what (frontline workers) are going through.”

Coordinating with the Royal Columbian Foundation, Jennings has arranged for the delivery, as well as ensuring that the sandwiches reach departments that need them.

“(The foundation) has navigated all the incoming offers to make sure it’s spread around over time and throughout the hospital,” Jennings said.

Royal Columbian Hospital
Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. - File

The sandwiches will be produced by Big Star Sandwiches of Surrey, a small business operated by people the Jennings are familiar with.

“They’re running a small business that is struggling right now, so we thought it would be a great way to help them, too,” she said. “When we sent in our order, (the owner) replied with a message saying how this invoice was making it possible for an employee to pay their rent this month.”

She got the idea after her husband Jon offered free sandwiches a week ago to people who were working from home in the community. He delivered 10 meals in and around the Victoria Hill neighbourhood, and Jennings thought it would be great to extend that gesture to the hospital heroes.

“I can’t help but feel for what (hospital workers) are going through. They have to do their job under stressful conditions, and then additional to that, have to go home and worry about the health of their own family.”

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