Michelle Obama Encourages Thanks for First Responders Amid Pandemic — Plus Other Ways to Help

"A simple 'thank you' text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us," the former first lady wrote on Twitter

Michelle Obama Visits The Tacoma Public Library
Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo: Jim Bennett/Getty

Michelle Obama is reminding everyone to show some gratitude for the health care workers and other emergency personnel manning hospitals and medical facilities amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the former first lady, 56, encouraged her Twitter followers to let healthcare workers know they appreciate the work being doing to save lives as the virus has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

“If you’re feeling as grateful to––and in awe of––our first responders as I am, now is the time to let them know,” she shared, posting photos of some handwritten “thank you” letters that have been circulating the internet. “A handwritten letter, a social media post, or a simple ‘thank you’ text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us.”

Some hospitals have also set up links where people can submit gratitude notes online. UChicago Medicine created a form on their website that allowed people to send a message to their frontline medical workers.

Several other political figures have also made a point to praise those treating COVID-19 patients.

The former first lady’s husband, former President Barack Obama, wrote earlier this month, “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while. They’re giving everything. May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser to her father, President Donald Trump, urged people to socially distance while sharing a video with footage of doctors across the country working to help those who contracted the virus.

Both former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton also shared messages of gratitude on Twitter in recent weeks.

“I’m deeply grateful every day, but especially on #NationalDoctorsDay, for the physicians who give their skill, knowledge & care to keep us healthy. Thank you to all doctors & health workers for your extraordinary service & sacrifices on behalf of your patients & your communities,” President Clinton, 73, wrote over the weekend.

“Most doctors don’t go to medical school with the expectation that treating patients will mean putting their own lives on the line. But over the last few weeks, that’s what they’ve been doing. On #NationalDoctorsDay, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you do,” Mrs. Clinton, 72, tweeted on Monday.

Here are more ways to show appreciation or send support for healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Make Financial Donations

There are a number of funds set-up to benefit healthcare workers and medical efforts across the country.

A general donation can be made to Direct Relief or the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Response Fund, both of which are accepting funds to help provide doctors and nurses with medical resources.

Other groups include the First Responders Children’s Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which will help first responders and their families with emergency financial assistance.

Locally, many hospitals have set up donation links on their websites.

Giving Personal Protective Gear/Supplies

Hospitals are in urgent need of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their workers treating coronavirus patients while trying not to contract the infectious respiratory illness. These items include medical face masks.

JoAnn Fabrics has been handing out free supplies to anyone who would like to help make homemade masks to donate to hospitals and healthcare workers.

However, not all hospitals can use the homemade masks when treating COVID-19 patients as they are not approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, many are accepting them to use as a “last resort” and to help curb their shortage, the Arizona Republic reported.

Hospitals are also asking for donations of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer as well as other unopened or sealed household items, like soap and toothpaste.

Support Organizations Feeding Healthcare Workers

There are several groups and restaurants that said they will be donating meals to healthcare professionals and first responders.

The owners of Tarallucci e Vino in New York City created Feed the Frontlines NYC and are giving food to hospital workers across the city, which is currently the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. Additional meals for the workers can be supported here.

Several Los Angeles restaurants have also partnered with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to raise money and provide two healthy meals a day to nearly 450 workers across six local hospitals. So far, the organization has raised nearly $300,000 in only one week and their goal is to reach $3,000,000. A GoFundMe page has been set up as well.

Girl Scout cookies can also be ordered and sent as “comfort to those on the frontlines of this crisis.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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