Gift the Front Line is an organization created to show some recognition to frontline workers, especially nurses, for their work with COVID-19.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
We are Gift the Front Line. Our mission is to show frontline workers our appreciation by sending them care packages filled with self-care gifts that promote mental wellness. We source products locally, which also helps to support small businesses.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Frontline workers, especially nurses, are experiencing burnout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 1 in 5 nurses have left their jobs since the pandemic started, with many more projected to leave the profession over the next few years. Those who remain are understaffed and overworked, which is ultimately having a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Ontario has recently started offering a $5,000 retention bonus for nurses, but gestures such as recognition gifts are also a proven way to keep employees happy.
The other side is that local businesses have taken a big hit during the pandemic, with many going out of business. We want to help support these businesses by sourcing our gift products locally.
When did you start/join it?
I started this initiative in Dec 2021, along with two other co-founding members. We have since added several more volunteers.
What made you want to get involved?
I have close friends who are nurses, and others who are small business owners that have had to shut down, so I saw the toll the pandemic has taken on our community. I also lost some close relations over the last two years, and seeing the professionalism and empathy that the healthcare staff showed, despite what they were going through, was truly heartwarming. The lightbulb moment came when my wife, who works from home, started receiving employee appreciation gift boxes from her employer, and I thought that we can do the same for nurses. So I partnered with Arigato gifts, which is a new Toronto-based employee gifting company, to help source the gifts from Canadian businesses. Then I set up a GoFundMe page and shared it with all my contacts, and eventually got picked up by CP24 breakfast television, through which we raised almost $5,000 in donations.
What was the situation like when you started?
In Dec 2021, the Omicron variant was spreading rapidly, and little was known about it. The province went back into full lockdown.
How has it changed since?
The province is now opened up, but the BA.2 variant is continuing to spread, with cases on the rise in a ‘sixth wave.’ Even if the case counts do go down, sending gifts to nurses for all that they’ve already done over the past few years continues to be our goal.
What more needs to be done?
We are seeking more donations to be able to send more gifts to more frontline workers. As noted in my original email, we recently dropped off 200 gift boxes to Michael Garron Hospital, and they loved it. We are ready to send many more, but lack the funding.
How can our readers help?
By donating to our GoFundMe and by spreading the word.
Do you have any events coming up?
We have several hospitals reaching out to us for a gift drop off, but we will need more funding before we can schedule our next event.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?