BRICK – It took just two weeks for residents to donate over 1,000 pounds of supplies for health care workers who are employed at Ocean Medical Center in Brick.
The “Adopt-A-Health-Unit Supply Drive” resulted in an outpouring of donations collected by the Brick Township Recreation Department, who placed large plastic bins outside their office at the Civic Plaza.
The Department had put out a request for items such as hand sanitizer, individually wrapped snacks, note pads, tea bags, scrub caps and much more, that ended up filling 19 bins. The drive started on April 29 and ran until May 12.
Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello said he was “shocked” at the amount of items the community donated.
“I thought maybe we’d get about half this amount,” he said. “We also got $1,500 in gift cards, plus all the items on the list.”
Township officials delivered the items to the hospital last Tuesday afternoon where they were greeted by about a dozen hospital employees.
Santaniello, Mayor John G. Ducey, Councilman Vincent Minichino and Recreation Department employee Christine Hessenkemper unloaded the 60-pound bins by the emergency room entrance, where they were greeted by about a dozen health care workers.
The “Adopt-A-Health-Unit Supply Drive” was Hessenkemper’s idea. “My daughter has a lot of nurse friends, so that’s how this came about,” she said.
Most of the items were donated by residents. Midstreams Elementary School fifth grade class advisor Tara Ranaudo organized a drive at her school where fifth grade students, their families and the faculty collected and donated everything that was on the list.
Mayor Ducey said the outpouring of support by township residents has been great.
“Hopefully, everyone will enjoy all the donations,” he said as he helped to unload the bins.
Chief Hospital Executive for Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center Jason Kreitner was on hand to greet the supply truck.
“The community support has been remarkable,” he said. “This is a clear example of the great partnership we have with the community.”
Kreitner said a recent drive-through at the hospital by township vehicles in support of the hospital staff was “an emotional thing…they had their sirens on, and they had signs. It was so well received, and it was a really great example of how they support our health care heroes.”
Kreitner said the timing was great for morale since the vehicle parade was when the hospital had the highest volume of COVID-19 patients.
He was referring to an April 8 event when the township’s Public Safety department organized a drive past the hospital to honor the health care workers and cheer them on, said Brick Police Public Information Officer Sergeant Jim Kelly.
“We had a large parade, with dozens of dozens of vehicles, and then we presented them with a banner,” Kelly said in a phone interview.
“We let the hospital staff know we are in solidarity with them, that we are usually on the front line during dangerous and threatening times, and we recognize that they are on the front lines this time,” said Sergeant Kelly.