GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Spectrum Health ER nurse has been working hard to care for patients and others in need across West Michigan during the pandemic.
Audrey Wendt said she felt "a pull" to give back, in light of all the support she and other healthcare workers received in the beginning of the pandemic.
"I knew our community has such a passion for helping others, so I just posted on my Facebook and one thing turned into another and here we are," Wendt explained.
She created a page called We Care GR to connect good people with a list of good deeds.
Wendt started by launching a school supply drive to benefit the kindergarten class at Buchanan Elementary in Grand Rapids.
The response was incredible--more than $14,000 dollars' worth of supplies poured in, enough to cover the entire school.
"That's kind of how each project has been; it's like, 'Oh, we start off with a small goal,' and then...it's kind of magical."
The group also shared the love for Valentine's Day by dropping off personalized gifts and goodies to patients at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
"One boy wanted a $200 Nerf gun; I didn't even know they made $200 Nerf guns. And, I thought, 'OK, we'll try,' and somebody bought him two! They got things that they really wanted or asked for, which was really fun... We ended up with 250 balloons and $7,000 or $8,000 worth of toys in just like three or four days."
Other projects include "Make a Friend, Save a Life," a pen pal program connecting families with local seniors, and an art box initiative, where children receive materials to create works of art for nursing home residents to enjoy.
"It's just really cool to see, and this is like not me; this is our community doing this; I'm just like holding a door open," said Wendt. "It's just really beautiful to watch."
Wendt is working on future projects, which include providing field trips for inner-city kids and helping those in pediatric foster care.
Despite hectic days working in healthcare during a pandemic, Wendt says the extra work is worth it.
"It feels good to give back; it's healing," she said. "One person can really do a lot, and so if I raise my children to think that way... that's what I think about at night."
To learn more about We Care GR, visit the Facebook page here.
As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Wendt is receiving a $550 prize.