Cupid took aim in Fayette County last week, slinging more than 3,000 arrows at unsuspecting valentines, spreading love and smiles across the miles.
Some flowers were red, and no one was blue. Some doughnuts were eaten — just a few — 1,361, delivered with personalized notes for $2. Anonymous donors added nearly 3,000 flowering plants for delivery, too.
Dubbed the Maple Crest COVID Cupid Project, the event grew out of a plan to brighten Valentine’s Day for residents and staff at the Fayette care campus, which offers nursing home care, assisted living care and assisted living memory care.
And then like the weather, it snowballed.
Coworker-sisters Megan Hanson, HR and marketing, and Angelique Lueder, assisted living director, joined forces with Nicole Wolfe, scheduler and CNA educator. Together, they built off Hanson’s idea for the heartfelt holiday falling in the midst of heartbreaking pandemic isolating for so many patients and families.
They partnered with Hurts Donut in Cedar Falls to sell doughnuts for $2, which Maple Crest staff and volunteers would package individually and deliver with a handwritten Valentine’s note.
Initially, the project would be open to current and retired Maple Crest staff, residents and families. As word spread, they thought about including the local clinic and fire station. Soon, however, they decided to open the project to 26 sites across the county, from long-term care centers, assisted living centers, clinics, hospitals to police stations and schools.
“We had staff buying for each other, staff buying for residents, staff buying for their kids and grandkids at school, families buying for their loved ones at all the different places, teachers buying for students, students buying for teachers. It was amazing to see the outpouring of love that was happening,” Hanson said via email.
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Ordering deadline was Jan. 31, giving Maple Crest staff, residents and volunteers almost two weeks to prepare. Housekeepers saved boxes to use for delivery, Lueder said by phone from her Fayette home. And to build up morale, staff members sported T-shirts saying: “Donut stress ... at Maple Care Campus we work with the best.”
Maintenance worker Bob Schultz drove the campus bus on delivery days, Wolfe created her COVID Cupid delivery costume out of masks and PPE, and husbands Dan Hanson and Chris Lueder pitched in, as well as the Lueders’ son, Arlo, 4.
Chris Lueder’s employer, NorAg in West Union, loaned the group a 30-foot enclosed trailer and heated shop in which to store the donated plants. Project organizers drove it to Waterloo on Feb. 7, where more volunteers helped load the plants in less than 15 minutes in the bitterly cold weather.
The plants were delivered this past Thursday to businesses and homes of people Lueder said “meant a lot to Maple Crest Campus.” Donuts and more plants went out on Friday, and the remainder of the plants on Saturday.
“A lot of people were blown away by the kindness,” she said. Families whose loved ones had been at Maple Crest shed tears of happiness. “Some people brought up stories, of like, ‘My grandmother used to be there. She passed away and this really made me think of her.’ Other people were really excited to pay it forward, and do their part and do their own thing. — just a lot of happiness, really.”
Typical of the responses posted on the Maple Crest Campus Facebook, one recipient wrote: “This was such a special project that touch(ed) a lot of hearts. I know it made my day so special. Thank you so much Maple Crest.”
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