Everyday Heroes: She’s bringing cookies where they’re needed most.
The Forward asked readers to tell us about the “everyday heroes” in their lives, people extraordinary things in this extraordinary time. If you know someone acting heroically right now, let us know — we’ll be adding to the collection in the coming days.
Name: Robyn Frank, owner of Thumbs Cookies
What she’s doing: In March, baker Robyn Frank got a call from Dr. Erica Kuhlmann, a doctor treating coronavirus patients at St. Paul’s Bethesda Hospital. Kuhlmann needed to provide food for her staff, who were too busy to duck out of the hospital for snacks during their shifts, and she wanted to use her food budget to support small businesses in the Twin Cities area.
“I started crying right away,” said Frank, touched that a doctor treating coronavirus patients had thoughts to spare for small businesses. She assured Kuhlmann that she would provide cookies free of charge. Then she recruited other local snack makers into the effort. Assembling packages in Frank’s kitchen, they donated about $5,000 of popcorn, granola, and other snacks to Bethesda Hospital.
“People weren’t even thinking of getting anything back,” Frank said of the initial effort. But she knew that small businesses struggling during an economic slowdown couldn’t provide food indefinitely, so she started soliciting donations to cover wholesale costs. In the past few weeks, Frank and fifteen other snack makers have raised enough money to provide “hero snack packs” to 8,000 healthcare workers, mostly in small donations from Twin Cities residents.
Where it’s going: While Frank’s efforts started locally, she’s now shipping snacks to nine states, including Alaska, North Carolina, and New York. And while she may have led the charge, she said she could never have expanded operations without the efforts of many others, from fellow business owners who have taken charge of logistics and shipping to doctors who place snacks in hospitals and remind her why her work is necessary.
“They’re saying, ‘Morale is down, people are scared, and even something like this brings up the spirits of staff,’” Frank reported.
Irene Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected].