MUSKEGON, Mich. — Christmas came early for 1,600 frontline workers at Mercy Health in Muskegon on Monday.
The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce organized a holiday stocking project called "1,000 Ways to Take Stock or Stockings in Muskegon," dedicated to gifting frontline workers who have cared for COVID-19 patients.
"It's been really, really hard. They're working really hard and a lot of hours," said Kim Maguire, Chief of Nursing at Mercy Health Muskegon. "So having an event like this to thank them means the world, acknowledging their hard work. I'm really appreciative for the community to support it that way."
The stocking project not only benefited health care workers, but local Muskegon businesses too.
In early December, the chamber set out to raise $20,000 but exceeded that goal and raised more than $30,000 in community gifts and cash.
That cash was then stuffed into holiday stockings and hand delivered by volunteers and Santa on a trolley outside of Mercy Health's front door on Monday morning.
"It's just a way to say thank you and stimulate the local economy a little bit, so it's a win, win for everybody," said Maguire.
More than 500 frontline workers at Mercy Health have received the vaccine so far.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel. We have our vaccination now. We started to administer that last Thursday and Friday," said Maguire. "So, lots of hope. A lot of encouragement, getting the vaccine. So, I think people's nerves are lifting a little bit, although it's still very tough"
The money gifted in the stockings can be used at 70 Muskegon businesses in 2021.