A Time for Gator Greatness

“Every Gift Counts”

Local sewers worked day and night to create ear-loop masks to keep UF Health front line workers and essential employees safe from the virus. Here, Atsuko Mason holds up a string of masks she deftly sewed for workers at UF Health Jacksonville.

UF Health Shands is no stranger to the appreciation of grateful patients. But this time, the health behemoth was on the receiving end of heart-warming acts of kindness.

Like their colleagues nationwide, UF Health workers faced long hours and shortages in protective gear as COVID-19 patients began to fill hospital beds in March. Fortunately, members of the Gator Nation took swift action to ease their burdens – from donating face masks and cookies to serenading nurses during shift changes.

More than 30,000 items of protective gear and related supplies have been gifted to the UF Health system, some of it handcrafted by faculty members and local sewers.

Cataloguing each donated item has been Dawn Watkins, director of strategic sourcing for UF Health Shands. Regardless of the size or amount, “every gift counts,” she affirms.

“People even dropped off single containers of Clorox wipes – a priceless gift considering major shortages in the market!” said Watkins. “It has been so moving to see people’s dedication and sense of urgency to make a difference.”

Here are just a few of the many acts of kindness spurred by the COVID-19 crisis.

Click on each photo to learn the story behind the gift

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Mask Heroes Came Through for Masked Heroes

Gator nurses, doctors and technicians worked tirelessly through the first wave of the pandemic to care for patients with COVID-19. Here an unidentified UF Health Shands nurse shows her Gator pride with a handcrafted face mask.

Gator nurses, doctors and technicians worked tirelessly through the first wave of the pandemic to care for patients with COVID-19. Here an unidentified UF Health Shands nurse shows her Gator pride with a handcrafted face mask.

Gainesville’s Chinese Community Rallied for Health Care Workers

The Chinese Gainesville Community raised more than $30,000 in three days to provide UF Health with protective gear. Here, organizer Changweng Deng delivers boxes of supplies to UF Health Shands in March.

The Chinese Gainesville Community raised more than $30,000 in three days to provide UF Health with protective gear. Here, organizer Changweng Deng delivers boxes of supplies to UF Health Shands in March.

“We’re one big family here”

A Brass Pro Shops employee hands a box of protective gear to a grateful UF Health employee on May 8.
Photo: UF Health

A Brass Pro Shops employee hands a box of protective gear to a grateful UF Health employee on May 8.

From Battling Hurricanes to Battling Covid

UF Health anesthetists model face shields made by the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory.
Photo: UF Department of Anesthesiology

UF Health anesthetists model face shields made by the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory.

Ford Motor Co. Steers Protective Gear to Shands

A Ford worker wears one of the 14 million face shields the automotive company made and donated to hospitals in 50 states, including UF Health Shands.
Photo: Ford Motor Co.

A Ford worker wears one of the 14 million face shields the automotive company made and donated to hospitals in 50 states, including UF Health Shands.

An Empty Chemistry Lab Yields Vital Supplies

The UF Department of Chemistry made WHO-approved sanitizer from chemicals sitting around in the lab, as did the Whitney Lab in St. Augustine.

The UF Department of Chemistry made WHO-approved sanitizer from chemicals sitting around in the lab, as did the Whitney Lab in St. Augustine.

Make That a Rum and … Hand Sanitizer?

The Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville produced more than 120,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for Florida’s health care workers, including those in the UF Health system.
Photo: Bacardi

The Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville produced more than 120,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for Florida’s health care workers, including those in the UF Health system.

Feeding the Front Line

UF Health workers have been fortified by daily donations of food and snacks. Here, nurse Elizabeth Diago receives Girl Scout Cookies, donated by A‑Turner Moving & Storage.
Photo: UF Health

UF Health workers have been fortified by daily donations of food and snacks. Here, nurse Elizabeth Diago receives Girl Scout Cookies, donated by A‑Turner Moving & Storage.

Cheers from Children

Hundreds of local children have thanked UF Health workers with handcrafted messages. This child’s drawing depicts a smiling pink medical cross (UF Health workers) “destroying” a green coronavirus with a sword.
Photo: UF Health

Hundreds of local children have thanked UF Health workers with handcrafted messages. This child’s drawing depicts a smiling pink medical cross (UF Health workers) “destroying” a green coronavirus with a sword.

A UF Symbol Is Bathed in Blue

Century Tower was illuminated in blue light from May 6 to May 16 to salute the 11,000+ UF Health Shands employees.
Photo: University of Florida

Century Tower was illuminated in blue light from May 6 to May 16 to salute the 11,000+ UF Health Shands employees.

A Personal Message, From 6 Feet ‘Close’

UF medical students created 6FTCloser, an app that enables people to send frontline COVID-19 workers short videos of gratitude. Here, a nurse responds to a video made for her by “Emily.”
Photo: 6FTCloser.com

UF medical students created 6FTCloser, an app that enables people to send frontline COVID-19 workers short videos of gratitude. Here, a nurse responds to a video made for her by “Emily.”

Serenading to Lift Spirits

Artists from the UF Arts in Medicine Program have been using their talents to comfort UF Health workers during the pandemic. Here AIM musician-in-residence Michael Claytor strums a nurse’s favorite tune during a livestream event.
Photo: Jesse S. Jones

Artists from the UF Arts in Medicine Program have been using their talents to comfort UF Health workers during the pandemic. Here AIM musician-in-residence Michael Claytor strums a nurse’s favorite tune during a livestream event.

Looking Down to Look Up

Messages in chalk, like this vibrant “Thank You” outside UF Health Shands Hospital, remind our health care workers that their efforts are noticed and deeply appreciated.

Messages in chalk, like this vibrant “Thank You” outside UF Health Shands Hospital, remind our health care workers that their efforts are noticed and deeply appreciated.

The Blue (and Orange) Angels

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels soared over greater Jacksonville May 8 to cheer health care workers at UF Health and other institutions who are on the front lines of America’s battle against COVID-19.
Photo: U.S. Navy Blue Angels

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels soared over greater Jacksonville May 8 to cheer health care workers at UF Health and other institutions who are on the front lines of America’s battle against COVID-19.

One for All and All for One

A heartfelt message written on a box of supplies – in this case, a box of exam gloves from the Eric T. Wang Lab in the Center for Neurogenetics – epitomizes the spirit that moved hundreds of UF research labs to donate their gear to frontline workers during the pandemic.
Photo: Courtesy Dawn Watkins

A heartfelt message written on a box of supplies – in this case, a box of exam gloves from the Eric T. Wang Lab in the Center for Neurogenetics – epitomizes the spirit that moved hundreds of UF research labs to donate their gear to frontline workers during the pandemic.