MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Pediatric ICU nurse Grace Brooks says the past few months have been very challenging.

“It’s been rough,” Brooks said. “But we’re hanging in there.”

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Her colleagues at Children’s Minnesota have weathered the pandemic, staffing shortages happening nationally, and a recent alarming rise in other viruses among children.

“I definitely hit my 10,000 steps a day running around a bit more,” she said. “You can tell it’s starting to wear on folks but we’re doing our best.”

After another tough weekend at work, Brooks had an idea.

She put out a call Sunday on her Nextdoor App asking neighbors and strangers if they would be interested in giving her unit’s hospital break room a little upgrade.

“If you have letters you want to write, art you want to make, or if you want to donate a gift card for us to buy a meal for people staying extra late,” she said. “I need to do something to boost morale.”

The response was overwhelming. Photographers offered up their work. Teachers have offered to have their students write letters or make artwork. Another woman offered to come in and give massages for staff. More than $1,000 in gift cards have come in so far.

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“Just all over the board people have shown up when there’s a call,” Brooks said.

Brooks says the goal is to give her colleagues a place they can take a break and to find joy and encouragement during these tough times at both the Minneapolis and St. Paul locations.

“Just having that outside support refreshes and resets the button and gives us the push to keep working hard…to do what we love.”

Children’s Minnesota released a statement, saying in part: “Grace is one example of the selflessness of health care workers at Children’s Minnesota and across the country, who put the needs of the group before themselves. It’s inspiring to see our staff and community join together and get creative to help bring a jolt of joy to our hospitals as we continue serving the kids who need us most.”

Due to the amount of response, the Children’s Minnesota Foundation is now handling donations. There are a variety of ways people can help.

Donations and notes can be sent or dropped off at the Children’s Minnesota welcome desks on either hospital campus in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Donations can also be made online at childrensmn.org/give.

Children’s Minnesota – Minneapolis
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

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Children’s Minnesota – St. Paul
345 North Smith Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102

Kate Raddatz