Shelby County students make valentines for health care workers

By SHANNON THOMASON / Special to the Reporter

Some UAB Medicine health care workers had a sweet Valentine’s Day this year.

Children from 20 schools in the Birmingham area, including several in Shelby County, turned what is in their hearts into art and created colorful cards for UAB Medicine workers.

Morning and evening shift staff received a handmade valentine along with individually wrapped cookies and popcorn on Sunday, Feb. 14.

The idea for the Valentines for UAB Health Care Heroes project came from the University Events team, which was looking for additional ways to show appreciation to health care workers in the academic medical center’s multiple COVID-19 hospital units, according to Kay Simon, director of University Events.

Since last April, the events team has scheduled meals for frontline workers through the Meals for Heroes fund, which also supports small businesses through the pandemic.

“We thought that valentines created by schoolchildren would be a perfect extension of that effort — to express our community’s love and appreciation for the amazing work the health care workers continue to do,” Simon said.

The outpouring of support to help collect hundreds of cards for more than 800 health care workers has been overwhelming, from colleagues across the UAB campus to parents, teachers, principals and even school superintendents, she said.

The support from the community has been amazing, said UAB Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe, DNP, RN, NE-BC.

“From meals to well wishes, all community support has been appreciated by the team,” Poe said. “The cards and messages from the kids in the community have been very special to us all.”

Children participated from elementary schools including Cahaba, Cherokee Bend, Deer Valley, Edgewood, Hall Kent, Helena, Lake View, Shades Cahaba, Shades Mountain, Shelby County and West Jefferson, as well as Oak Mountain Intermediate, Advent Episcopal School, i3 Academy, South Highland Child Development Center, North Shelby Baptist Church and Tannehill Valley Baptist Church.

“Part of our curriculum teaches how vital our community helpers are to our lives,” said Suzanne Snow, Ph.D., executive director of South Highland. “Through the Valentines for Heroes Project, the children were able to apply their knowledge and express their gratitude.”

Shades Cahaba Elementary School wanted students to participate because “we are grateful for our health care workers,” Principal John Lowry said. “Everyone has been affected, and we need to take the opportunities we can to show our support and gratitude for the helpers.”

UAB Medicine’s steadfast response to the COVID-19 crisis has positively affected the entire state of Alabama, said Martin Nalls, head of school for i3 Academy.

“We are so fortunate to have the expertise and commitment of all of the health care workers at UAB,” Nalls said. “Our i3 Academy students created valentines to share a little bit of joy with those who are working tirelessly to keep our community safe and healthy. Thank you, UAB health care workers.”