In green crayon the card reads, “You help peple so much. I love you nursis and docters.” It’s signed with a self-portrait of a little girl in a triangle-shaped blue dress. Five-year-old Thatcher’s card is harder to decipher. But the budding abstract expressionist’s sentiment is crystal clear.
The sanitized envelop filled with similar messages from Mrs. Walker’s students at Mabry Elementary School in Tampa arrives in the fifth-floor command center of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
“As a teacher, I try to instill into my students the importance of doing kind things for others,” says Peggy Walker, who teaches Pre-K at the school. “Caring and kindness are the building blocks that shape who our children will be later in life.”
In a hospital founded to fight polio, the colorful homemade cards galvanize solidarity that inspires the physicians, clinicians and essential support staff caring for children while apart from their own. Community spirit is high. Tailors at a local formal wear company founded two years before the 1918 flu pandemic are sewing masks for the community. Local breweries and distillers are retooling production lines to make hand sanitizer.
The note “Thank you for bringing sunshine in this dark time” covers an orange sun on yellow construction paper. – Author unknown. “Be Brave” – Hazel, age 5. And “Thank you for taking care of people I love,” writes Samuel in exceptional penmanship. “Do not worry. I washed my hands before I wrote this,” the third grader pencils next to his drawing of a sink.
Thank you, children. Thank you, Mrs. Walker. We love the cards. You inspire us all.
As the vaccine comes to the frontline workers, a world of possibilities begins to open up.
For Gavin, the hospital isn’t all about challenges and adversity. It’s about giving joy to others.
The holidays she has altered to care for kids are too many to count, but as she retires, she leaves much for patients and colleagues to be thankful.
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