Chamber adds dropbox for ‘Hospital Heroes’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Chamber adds dropbox for ‘Hospital Heroes’In response to those looking for a way to support our “Hospital Heroes,” the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce has installed a dropbox outside its 128 E. California Ave. locations where donations can be deposited.

The origin story of the partnership between the chamber and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital is reflective of the predominately generous spirit of those sheltering in place during lockdown orders to slow COVID-19 outbreaks.

“We have had a lot of members inquire about how they, or the chamber, could support our healthcare workers during the crisis,” said Tim Smith, executive director of the chamber. He reached out to one of his boardmembers, Michelle Lemke, who also works at the hospital. She brought it to Jayde Glenn to strategize with Smith how interested members of the community might help.

“One thing that people had expressed an interest in was helping feed our hospital heroes,” said Smith. Logistically it was difficult to plan when the local demand on healthcare would peak, making such a gesture timely for the hospital staff. “Then there are the challenges of not being able to bring food that people prepared at home, and having such a large staff to feed at once.”

So they came up with the idea of buying gift cards that could be used to feed RRH workers when food deliveries would be most needed.

“This is a good way for us to thank our Hospital Heroes, but it’s also a way to support some of the restaurants who are struggling right now,” said Smith. “But gift cards also feed the desire of people who want to support and engage.”

While the reported number of cases in the community has been ticking up slowly, stewards of public health and safety have stressed the importance of being prepared for an anticipated surge — which can be particularly tricky to manage for remote communities.

“We have been overwhelmed by the number of people coming forward, wanting to help, showing that true Ridgecrest spirit of pulling together,” said Jayde Glenn, marketing director at RRH.

“Tim has actually been great since the beginning of all of this — asking how the chamber can help, sharing information with the community. His willingness to serve has been amazing — nothing is too big an ask.”

“I am happy that the chamber can be involved in a way that provides meaningful support to our hospital when the time comes,” said Smith. Having an off-site donation point also helps the hospital reduce their risk of exposure.

In an effort to protect hospital workers and patients from infection, all but those with an urgent or essential need to be at the hospital have been asked to stay away.

Other donations accepted by RRH are unused surgical or N-95 masks and homemade reusable face masks.

For information call the chamber at 760-375-8331.

Pictured: Jayde Glenn, Tim Smith and Michelle Lemke stand with the new dropbox installed this week at the Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-04-10