NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – “Thank you for being our heroes.”
“Not all heroes wear capes.”
“Thank you for taking care of all these people who are sick.”
The words of 25 or so New Brunswick elementary school students have been hung in a New York City hospital.
Their notes of appreciation and encouragement are meant to lift the spirits of health care heroes who are working in a city where more than 22,000 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The notes were the idea of Caitlin Davis, a teacher at the Paul Robeson Community School For the Arts.
She gave her sixth grade language arts class an extra-credit assignment to write letter for the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in New York City.
Davis got the idea because her finance, Vincent Luppino, has been helping care for COVID-19 patients.
“He's actually a physical therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City,” Davis said. “His hospital is actually an orthopedic hospital, so they weren't supposed to get COVID-19 patients. But the hospital across the street, New York Presbyterian was getting a massive, massive overflow of people, so his hospital actually volunteered to help them out and so they ended up taking a lot of COVID patients also.”
Davis said Luppino would not typically care for critical care patients, but he received proper personal protection equipment and a lot of guidance from his hospital before being pressed into service to tend to COVID-19 patients.
“But it's still very overwhelming, I guess,” she said. “He would come home with stories and tell me, ‘Oh, you know, we have the eighth, ninth and 10th floors with COVID-19 patients now and we’re clearing this floor out and we’re doing this and that.’”
Davis, who has other friends working on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 wanted to do something to help.
So, she recruited her students to help.
“And, so I was like, let me assign the kids just like an extra credit assignment and have them write letters to them and boost spirits a little bit because it was a lot,” Davis.
Davis printed out the letters – some of them contained pictures and emojis – and gave them to Luppino to post on the bulletin board at his hospital.
Luppino’s co-workers would sometimes stop and look at the letters when they needed a quick breather.
“Everybody loved them,” Davis said. “It’s cute to hear from kids. And, sixth grade is a good age, too, because they’re old enough to understand what’s really going on, but they’re still young and innocent. They wrote really sweet things and I think that meant a lot to them.”