When Adena speech pathologist Kristy Bruckner saw a news story about a group in New York that was using donations to buy food from local businesses to feed first responders and health care workers, she thought, “This could really work in Greenfield.”
With the help of retired occupational therapist Cindy Hayes, New Directions Director Tonia McLanahan, Adena physical therapist Joyce Napolz, and Glitz nail technician Niki Pollard, Bruckner started Small Town Big Hearts to give back to Greenfield’s front-line workers and support local restaurants.
Bruckner and the others have been working through different areas of the community to spread the word.
Bruckner, who has been furloughed, said that the organization is exactly what she and others needed.
“I kind of feel like I’m out here, and I’m stressed, and they’re right there every day dealing with all this. So what can I give back? How can I help them? Because I’m apart of their community, and I don’t feel like it right now,” Bruckner said. “We’ll all feeling a little disconnected from each other right now. This helps us to all feel connected and have a purpose instead of just hanging out at home, plus we’re helping those people in our area who are working hard to make sure everybody’s safe.”
Since its creation in early April, Small Town Big Hearts has been able to feed first responders and health care workers at Greenfield Nursing and Rehabilitation, Adena Greenfield Medical Center, Edgewood Manor, Greenfield Medical Services, Roman Family Healthcare, Greenfield Family Medicine, the Greenfield Police Department, and Greenfield’s Paint Creek Fire and EMS office multiple times each, and Bruckner said they hope to continue doing so through the first week of May.
Small Town Big Hearts has also donated money to the Greenfield Area Christian Center’s food pantry and Greenfield’s St. Vincent De Paul Society.
“Our goal is not to make huge amounts of money — our goal is to make enough money to provide these meals through April and possibly the first or second week of May, and as long as we have it, until everybody’s back to something resembling normal,” Bruckner said. “Cindy said, ‘You know, if we feed them for one week, we’ve accomplished something,’ and she was right. I was thinking, ‘Oh gosh, can we do this for a month?’ and her comment kind of made me see that even if we did it once, we’ve accomplished something for them.”
To feed workers on the front lines, Small Town Big Hearts has taken monetary donations from the community and used them to purchase meals from Greenfield restaurants, including Big City Pizza, Catch 22, Cream-n-Sugar Bakery, Domino’s Pizza, Grillers and Chillers, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Potbellied Pig, and Subway.
“We called all of the restaurants and asked them if they wanted to be involved, but we were really hoping to keep the small ones open — the ones that didn’t have corporate-backing,” Bruckner said.
As of Thursday, Small Town Big Hearts has received around $3,000 in donations — more than Bruckner said she’d imagined they’d receive.
“I didn’t think we’d get enough donations because people are out of work and things are tight for a lot of people right now. Someone told me the Christian center’s food pantry was expecting like 350 more families than they typically feed, and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, we’re probably not going to collect much money,’ but it turned out great,” Bruckner said. “I’m proud of all the people who thought they could spare a little bit to help someone else. Things get done by everyone contributing a little bit and taking care of each other.”
Though Small Town Big Hearts focuses on Greenfield front-line workers and restaurants, Bruckner encouraged other communities to take action as well.
“If you believe it can happen, it can happen,” she said. “If you limit yourself and think it’ll never happen, you might miss out on something really fantastic.”
Donations can be made by dropping off or mailing a check to Merchant’s National Bank for Small Town Big Hearts. Donations are tax exempt.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570