If one thing is for certain in a pandemic, Sanford Health feels the absence of more than 500 volunteers who bring joy to patients and employees in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
For the time being, those volunteers are asked to stay home in an effort to maintain safe protection practices.
“We are missing our volunteers,” said Nona Bixler, director of volunteer services.
But in honor of National Volunteer Week, Bixler and her team have taken to the streets to say thank you. Her team is surprising the many volunteers by leaving goodie bags on their doorsteps, ringing the doorbell and walking away.
“Happy Volunteer Week! We miss you!” she shouts to her volunteers from the sidewalk, calling this “the next best thing.”
“I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate them. To the moon and back,” she said. “This is our way of giving back to them once a year.”
Volunteers include therapy dogs who received special dog treats for their service to the Sanford Health community.
“We talk about family. These volunteers, there are 500 of them, they’re all my family,” Bixler said. “We do have the best volunteers. They all come because they want to. They want to give. They give from their heart. They give so much.”
She calls this week bittersweet, as she hopes each of them are healthy and well at home, knowing they’ll be together again soon.
“I’ve been at this job a long time,” Bixler said. “I’ve seen young volunteers come in, older volunteers pass away, I’ve seen it all. This is our family.
“I know God put me here on earth for a reason. Having these volunteers is the reason.”
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