A local business is bringing the community together with a gift card project that is geared toward honoring frontline workers at Bothwell Regional Health Center.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle Swords, owner of Swords’ Family Pharmacy in downtown Sedalia, felt called to begin the project in mid-December. Swords is sending cover letters to businesses about the project and to date, she’s mailed out 125. The project is asking for $10 gift cards from any business which will be given along with a handwritten greeting card to each of the nearly 1,000 frontline workers at BRHC. Swords hopes to have multiple gift cards for each employee and plans to present the cards for Valentine’s Day.
Swords said she felt God gave her the idea for the project.
“It was honestly after the Democrat had the article where (they) interviewed someone from the (BRHC) critical care,” she noted. “And I’d been thinking, ‘what can we do?’”
Swords said when she first began the project she went to different businesses, purchased $10 gift cards and explained the program.
“So, I bought gift cards and they donated additional ones,” she added. “People could go to the businesses they patronize and say, ‘would you be willing to donate?’”
She added during the last year because of the virus the pharmacy has lost patients. This loss has affected Swords.
“We have had people come in to get an immunization and they had a fever,” she said. “And we said, ‘please you need to go get tested.’ It’s very serious and the masks are very serious to us.
“But yet it doesn’t compare to the frontline workers at the hospital when those people get sick,” she continued. “That’s ultimately where … they go, and my heart has just gone out to them on every level.”
She added it’s not only nurses and doctors at the hospital but also dietary, laundry and housekeeping personnel and others who have to be “on point” during the pandemic.
“Then when there is an exposure, they are short-handed,” Swords said. “They are on call all the time.”
Swords added business usually “struggle” during the winter months but more so this year with the virus impeding sales.
“I thought, this blesses not only the (BRHC) employees but businesses that are struggling right now,” she explained. “Especially the small business and the non-essential, and January is a month when your bills go on but sales slow down significantly. So I thought what a way to just help everyone.”
Since some of the gift cards are from grocery stores, gas stations and places like Dollar General they could be used to “grab a meal,” Swords said.
“People are either bringing in gift cards or writing checks or bringing in money,” Swords added. “And then we go buy the gift cards, we ask them if they have a preference and most of the time they say no.”
Greeting cards will be added to the envelope along with the gift card. Many of the handwritten greeting cards have scriptures and a note of encouragement.
“We of course have filled out a lot of them,” Swords said. “The community has filled out a lot of them and brought them in for us. Small youth groups have been doing some for us. So, there’s a variety of cards and messages because they are writing whatever they feel led to write.”
Those who wish to donate a $10 gift card or make a monetary donation for frontline workers can drop it off at Swords’ Family Pharmacy, 300 S. Ohio Ave. Swords is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. After hour drop-offs can be placed in the night depository box at Landman Title Co., 111 W. Third St.