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‘Tea for the Soul to Go’ efforts

MOHAWK VALLEY — To show some appreciation and encouragement for local medical and nursing facilities, two local churches have teamed up to donate goodie bags to local hospitals and nursing homes.

Christ Church in Duanesburg and St. Johns Episcopal Church in Johnstown, through a program called Tea for the Soul to Go have been donating goodie bags that contain tea bags, snacks and encouraging notes for each person who receives them to help show “appreciation, encouragement and love” for those who have been working nonstop during the pandemic, according to a press release.

Each bag is also decorated by members of the community. Students at Wheelerville School have donated decorated bags.

“It’s been a really neat project,” said the Rev. Laurie Garramone. “Especially for families at home who might not have had projects.”

Garramone said the idea of the Tea for the Soul to Go came from Albany Medical Center in which prior to the pandemic the hospital had a the Tea for the Soul program they would wheel around carts with tea and snacks in them for workers, however when the pandemic started they were no longer able to do so. Albany Med then reached out to Garramone, who had taken a Clinical Pastoral Education Course there, to donate paper bags so they could change the program to Tea for the Soul to Go.

“After the first donation we decided to put the tea and food in for them,” Garramone said.

She said utilizing the St. Johns Episcopal Church Facebook page, which community members are very active on, she asked for people to make donations of decorated paper bags to be used for the program.

Garramone said community members immediately began dropping off the decorated bags.

“Every bag is a work of art,” Garramone said. “Inside every bag is a personal note.”

She said people who decorate the bags write the notes, or if there is no note, she writes them herself, so every bag gets a note of appreciation and encouragement for health care workers.

To follow COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, only two people stuff the bags with the snacks and tea which is usually Garramone and her husband, Alistair Morrison. They wear masks and gloves while stuffing the bags, and let the bags sit for a couple days before bringing them to the hospitals or nursing home.

Garramone said she felt she “needed to do something practical” to show appreciation for health care workers and to give them something that will give them a break when working long shifts and to “help us think of them as heroes.”

So far through the program, they have donated 1,100 bags to Albany Med, Nathan Littauer Hospital, Ellis Hospital and St. Mary’s. Next week they plan to donate 160 bags to the Wells Nursing Home.

Members participating in the Tea for the Soul to Go project are estimating that they will give away close to 1,500 bags before the project is completed.

They will deliver bags to the Wells Nursing Home on Thursday and anticipate their last donation will be to the Capstone Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, as the state has been reopening in phases by region.

“It’s been a surprise for us and wonderful,” Garramone said.

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