As news of COVID-19 sweeps the nation, millions of Americans are faced with fear, wondering if the pandemic will reach their doorstep. Proactive preventative measures have been taken across the US to ensure its citizens are kept safe and healthy during these uncertain times. Social distancing has been implemented, urging the maintenance of 6ft distance between passers-by. Quarantine measures have been taken, asking Americans to “hunker down” for the unforeseeable future. Countless businesses and schools across the country have closed down, as a result, currently leaving only “essential” employees working. Unfortunately, it’s these essential workers that ultimately end up being at higher risk of contracting the virus due to greater potential for exposure.
Typically, we think of grocery store workers, delivery drivers for restaurants or the postal service, and, of course, the doctors and nurses working at hospitals/medical facilities when we think of “essential” employees. Often, we forget the lesser-seen heroes that are still out there on a daily basis, risking their lives to keep us safe. However, with school closures impacting families all over the US, mothers have taken this issue to heart, making an effort to ensure that all those who care for their children are taken care of in return.
Upon hearing news of the initial school exposures to COVID-19, and the resulting school closures to ensure safe and sanitary conditions, mothers across the nation have taken matters into their own hands. Their families have felt the immediate threat of this virus. As a result, their gratitude for the school custodial staff is immeasurable. These men and women work tirelessly in dangerous conditions to provide a clean space for students. The parents of these students couldn’t let this kindness and selflessness go unmatched.
In an effort to offer thanks and support, a number of fundraisers have been organized, raising money for custodians. One of the first to engage in this trend was Brooke Thomas, from Williston, Vermont, who worked with her community to raise over $7,400 in just four days. Brooke told CNN, “We need to recognize that these staff members who are going into potential contamination and a disaster zone, really, and putting themselves at risk… It’s already an under-appreciated job as it is, and not one that gets a lot of respect. It was a feel-good way to get people to recognize that and promote kindness when this mass hysteria is happening.”
Brooke’s kind initiative sparked enthusiasm for others around the US. Shawna Lidskey of Shelburne, Vermont, created a GoFundMe campaign for her children’s school’s custodial staff, raising over $4,000. On her campaign page, Lidsky wrote, “Inspired by our neighbors in Williston, who raised over $7,000 for their custodial staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s come together and pass on this act of kindness in our town!”
Brooke’s idea even made its way to Medfield, Massachusetts, where Heather Letteney raised $9,000 for the hard work and dedication of her local janitors. Letteney told ABC News, “They’re keeping the kids and keeping the schools clean. This is a time more than ever to appreciate what they do.”
To the janitors and custodial staff across the country and around the world fighting to make sure conditions are safe, and to all the people committed to supporting their sacrifice: Thank you for all you do!