LIMA — Usually you think about Santa Claus receiving letters this time of year.
On Friday, he delivered them, bringing letters of support and encouragement from area students to nurses at Allen County Public Health, Lima Memorial Health System and Mercy Health-St. Rita’s in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year has been a tough year,” said Jaime Frye, a 20-year nurse with Mercy Health-St. Rita’s, who teared up when she saw Santa Claus walk into the lobby of the hospital. “Seeing Santa helped me feel the Christmas season and think about the patients, their families and the people who get to spend Christmas at home with their children and families.”
The children offered their gratitude and support.
“You are making sure that we are still going in our world. Thank you for working when we need you,” one child wrote.
An Apollo Career Center student wrote, “Thank you for putting your life on the line every day. We are all going through such a hard time with this, but you are doing an amazing job. It is so inspiring.”
The letters came from schools throughout Allen County, said Craig Kupferberg, superintendent of the Allen County Educational Service Center. The ESC gathered the letters, and Kupferberg filled in for Santa in delivering a heartfelt message to the front-line nurses.
“We wanted to thank the health care providers because, without them, this would have been a much bigger disaster than it’s been in most of our schools,” said Kupferberg, who joked with the nurses that they were more popular than Santa given the number of letters arriving for them at the North Pole.
It helped to see students appreciate the work nurses do during the pandemic, said Frye, whose own 8-year-old daughter helps her keep things in perspective even when times get stressful, including drawing a picture with the label “Beautiful Family” after one stressful evening.
“We’re here for a purpose. Our purpose is to care for our community, our patients and our families,” Frye said. “These kids, they’re so young and naive, and yet they can still appreciate what we’re doing.”
Kupferberg said he was delighted when he saw the nurse’s faces as Santa walked into the room.
”I can’t imagine a bigger privilege than being able to do this,” Kupferberg said.