Arizona kids Thank you letter from Dylan Pottinger
One of Dylan Pottinger's thank you letters to nurses. Photo courtesy of Heidi Pottinger

Arizona kids are doing their part to put smiles on the faces of hospital workers and nursing home residents as they battle through the coronavirus pandemic.

About a week ago, Tory Pottinger Feiler and her two boys, Luke and Colin, started making cards for healthcare providers. They wanted to make sure the nurses and doctors helping coronavirus patients know they are appreciated. 

Luke and Colin Feiler
Luke and Colin Feiler

That’s when Tory thought to create a Facebook Group page aptly named “Cards for Hospitals and Nursing Homes.”

“Honestly, I just decided that I wanted the boys to help me do something because I felt so badly for the doctors and nurses on the front lines while we were being asked to stay home, Tory told The Copper Courier. “They are tired, scared, and out there saving lives.”

The Facebook page now has over 550 members and people from all over the state have been either sending or dropping off more letters. 

Thank you cards
Photo courtesy of Cards for Hospital and Nursing Homes Facebook page.

“We’re writing like, be happy, smile, and thank you,” Colin Feiler said to azfamily. “I’m writing notes and doing tons of pictures.”

“I want them to know that we’re thankful for them, and really happy they are helping us through this,” Luke Feiler added.

Tucson mom Ali Saavedra and her three young boys have also been participating, writing cards at least once or twice a week. Her boys enjoy making them, she told Copper Courier.

The Saavedra boys
Jack, Jacob, and Jonathan Saavedra

“It just seemed like a wonderful way to say thank you to the amazing and selfless hospital workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Saavedra said. “And I remind the boys why they are making them and how important it is to show our appreciation.”

Jonathan Saavedra
Jonathan Saavedra and a letter the family wrote to hospital workers.

Hospital workers from Phoenix to Nogales have posted photos proudly, posing with their thank you cards and huge smiles on their faces. 

The non-profit organization CHARM (Child Health & Resilience Mastery) is also supporting this project, extending its reach all the way to the southern border.

CHARM’s Founder and Executive Director Heidi Pottinger, said research shows writing letters of gratitude once per week for three weeks can help with mental health significantly, even up to three months after writing them.

Dylan Pottinger and Jacob Hass
Dylan Pottinger (left) and Jacob Hass (right) Photos courtesy of Heidi Pottinger.

She said research also shows that writing letters of gratitude is protective for mental health. Pottinger, who’s also a Director of Clinical Investigations at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health, added, “In the long run, I hope that this project helps us all to feel more connected with one another even when we can’t be together, and that it helps children and families to strengthen their resilience during this stressful time.”

Lucy Pottinger
Lucy Pottinger. Photos courtesy of Heidi Pottinger.

We should note some facilities are understandably not accepting cards because of health concerns, so the Feilers are also encouraging people to share messages virtually. 

Hospital workers
Hospital workers at Tucson Medical Center. Photos courtesy of Cards for Hospital and Nursing Homes Facebook page.

Additionally, everyone is asked to wash their hands before they start and before/after they drop-off the letters. Plus, they’ve been using PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to collect the cards in bags. After holding them for a a period of time, volunteers then distribute the cards to colleagues at hospitals in Nogales, Tucson, and Phoenix. 

Thank you letters collection bins
Photo courtesy of Cards for Hospital and Nursing Homes Facebook page

Pottinger said, “It’s a really great way to support our healthcare workers and isolated elderly right now while at the same time supporting our own mental health — you can’t beat that!”