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Volunteers, donors show support for area's frontline healthcare workers

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Molly Secor-Turner, far right, along with Jessica Kluck, second from right, and Julie Engen, second from left, deliver Brew Bird dinners to healthcare workers Jane Taber, far left, and David Hernandez, third from left, and other staff at the Sanford Broadway Medical Center COVID-19 special care unit. Special to The Forum.

FARGO — For the past 11 years, Molly Secor-Turner has taught public health and nursing at North Dakota State University.

Over that time, many of her students went on to take nursing jobs at hospitals across North Dakota. Since the pandemic struck, many of those former students have been posting on social media about COVID-19 and the terrible toll it is taking on patients and nurses alike.

Moved by what she was seeing, Secor-Turner turned to Facebook to ask nurses what things they could use to make their jobs and lives easier.

At the same time, Secor-Turner said her sister suggested she use Venmo, an online payment service, to accept donations that could be used to support area nurses.

Secor-Turner did just that and almost immediately the money started coming in.


"I sat the rest of the evening in my kitchen with my kids just being moved to tears because first I got $50, then $100. Before I went to bed that night, I had over $2,000 from people just seeing the post on Facebook and sending me money," Secor-Turner said.

At first, the donations came from people she knew, but pretty soon money started coming from friends of friends.

"It was incredible," Secor-Turner said, adding that within the span of a few days, she raised about $4,000.

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From left, Julie Engen, Molly Secor-Turner, and Jessica Kluck shop for snacks and other items at Costco before distributing the goodies to area nurses. Special to The Forum.

"I started thinking, I can use this money and also support small businesses in our community," Secor-Turner said, adding that the very next morning she ordered coffee from Beans Coffee Bar and donuts from Sandy's Donuts, both locally owned businesses.

Secor-Turner said a group of friends she goes running with has been pitching in as well, including Nichole Allmendinger, Julie Engen, Jessica Kluck and Barb Kloeckner.

It was Allmendinger, along with Secor-Turner's daughter, Maddy Turner, who helped deliver the Beans Coffee and Sandy's Donuts to the VA Healthcare System in Fargo, as well as to nurses at Essentia Health, Sanford Health and Fargo Cass Public Health.


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Maddy Turner, left, and Nichole Allmendinger deliver donuts and coffee to Sanford Health. Special to The Forum.

On another recent day, meals prepared by Brew Bird catering in Fargo were delivered to the COVID intensive-care unit at Sanford Health and this past Friday night, Nov. 20, Secor-Turner said her son Rees, who is 17, along with his girlfriend, Brynn Nelson, took pizzas to emergency room nurses at Sanford Health and Essentia Health in the middle of the night to give nurses working the late shift a treat.

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Rees Turner and Brynn Nelson deliver pizzas to area emergency rooms on a recent night. Special to The Forum.

This past Saturday night, Secor-Turner and several helpers went to Costco and bought snacks and other items that were bundled into care packages and delivered to COVID units at Essentia Health and Sanford Health.

More goodies were delivered to Sanford Health on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Secor-Turner said she recently went on social media to let people know how their generosity was being put to use and she made yet another appeal, though this one had nothing to do with asking for dollars.


Secor-Turner said she told her social media audience that if they really want to help nurses, what they need to do is write to lawmakers and tell them that this is not the time to back down on COVID restrictions that have been put in place by Gov. Doug Burgum and that the "real work is the work of the community to protect not only our community, but our frontline workers, because that's the way we can really help nurses right now."

Secor-Turner added that many nurses do not feel genuinely appreciated when they look around them and see people refusing to wear masks, or complaining about bars closing early.

Nurses see first hand "what happens when we don't do those things," Secor-Turner said.

She added that for her, one of the most rewarding moments in recent days came after she posted a photo on social media of her son and his girlfriend delivering pizzas to emergency rooms.

She said a former student responded to the post, stating she was working in the emergency room when the pizza was delivered and the gesture was the best thing that happened all night.

"So, it was really fun," Secor-Turner said.

Sue Omdalen, a spokeswoman for Essentia Health Foundation, said workers very much appreciate when people go out of their way to show their gratitude for what they do.

"It's just nice that people are thinking about our staff and thinking about what they're going through. It's been heartwarming," Omdalen said.


Omdalen added that if people are looking for ways to help, or if they have other questions about how they can show appreciation for frontline workers, they may call her at 701-430-0675.

Amy Hinkemeyer, a spokeswoman at Sanford Health Foundation, said that from a frontline worker's perspective, the size or amount of a donated gift or item doesn't matter; the gesture alone is appreciated.

"Our teams are working tirelessly, so to know that people are thinking of them and really want to support them means a lot," Hinkemeyer said.

"We're so grateful for the community we live in that is so generous," she added.

Ways to help

Sanford Health and Essentia Health have set up a number of ways people can help frontline healthcare workers.

At Sanford Health, the options include the opportunity to donate to the Emerging Threats Fund to honor and bring some holiday cheer to healthcare workers this holiday season. Donations to this fund go toward purchasing a gift card from a local restaurant for a Sanford Fargo healthcare worker.

The Employee Crisis Fund provides direct assistance to employees who are facing financial struggles related to COVID-19 or other hardships.

In addition, Sanford Health is accepting donations of items at Sanford Health HealthCare Accessories Fargo , at 3223 32nd Ave. S.


Items being accepting to support and comfort Sanford workers include:

  • Homemade, surgical or N95 masks
  • Cloth scrub caps with buttons
  • Unopened hand sanitizer
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Notes of thanks and colored pictures

Items are accepted Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. When arriving, donors should call 701-293-8211 and an employee will come to your vehicle to get your donations.
Donations are also being accepted at Sanford Broadway Clinic .

For those donations, the public is asked to not go to the main entrance, but instead use the drive-thru feature just north of the Sanford Broadway Pharmacy off Broadway and Eighth Street North. A guest services team will be there to assist donors.

Donations at Sanford Broadway Clinic will be accepted every Wednesday in December between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Items requested include:

  • Gatorade, PowerAde and any drinks with electrolytes
  • Individual packets of Crystal Light and similar products
  • Emergence packets
  • Any other powder packet that they can drop in water
  • Aquaphor or Eucerin cream
  • Homemade, surgical or N95 masks
  • Cloth scrub caps with buttons
  • Unopened hand sanitizer
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Notes of thanks and colored pictures

Sanford officials requested that anyone wanting to make donations to first visit Sanford's website, which can be found here.

Officials said they prefer that people not drop off food because it takes extra resources to coordinate. However, businesses that want to donate meals, etc. may email Sanford's community relations team at: communityrelations@sanfordhealth.org , or call 701-234-2000 and ask for community relations.

When it comes to Essentia Health, one way to help healthcare workers is by making a gift through Essentia's COVID-19 Response Fund . According to Essentia, every gift stays local, going to work immediately at the hospital of the donor's choosing.


More information on how to help can be found here , Or by calling 218-786-4016, or emailing: COVIDdonations@EssentiaHealth.org

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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