Community distributes goodie bags to frontline workers

David Gay

Buddy and Susan Young, two retired ministers from Canyon, along with other individuals from the area pulled into the main parking lot of Northwest Texas Healthcare System Friday morning with a U-Haul full of more than 3,000 goodie bags to give to frontline workers at the hospital system. 

During Friday’s distribution, approximately 3,000 bags were set aside for staff members at Northwest, while the others were being distributed to those who drive ambulances, as well as representatives at the city of Amarillo’s public health department.  

This comes after the Youngs took donations from more than 30 businesses and churches in the area to fill the bags with substantial snacks, useful items like hand sanitizer, chapstick and lotion, as well as notes of encouragement for the frontline workers during the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the Texas Panhandle. 

Susan Young said this idea spurred from hearing about her daughter’s experience working at the BSA Healthcare System. In late October, around 2,200 of these goodie bags were distributed to staff members at BSA. 

The Youngs based the idea off of their Beach Reach outreach project they led at South Padre Island while working for a church. During this project, the Youngs and other individuals traveled to the island to give free rides to those who are intoxicated during Spring Break. They also provided meals and wrote notes of appreciation to first responders and members of law enforcement. 

“When all this started happening in our city, we thought we could just transfer that and do that for all of our frontliners here in Amarillo,” she said. 

As churches and businesses from around the community started to help the Youngs in this initiative, Susan Young said many people did not know how dire the situation was for the frontline workers in the Amarillo community. 

“I think they saw the great need. Our world just needs kindness and for people to know they are valued,” she said. “Our workers in the hospital were not feeling that way. I think they felt like the community didn’t really care … This is just a very small gesture. But, when you get that many bags in one (place), it just is a kind of overwhelming comfort to know that someone does care. It’s very humbling to see. God is amazing. He put this all together, and I feel like it is really neat.” 

Patti Thompson, the chief nursing officer at the Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said any kind of tangible donation, as well as thoughts, prayers and positive social media posts, mean a lot to the hospital staff. Nurses and other hospital staff continue to work 12-hour shifts, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting the hospitals in the area. 

The practical items that are in the goodie bags go a long way for the staff, Thompson said. The use of those items serve another purpose. 

“Every time they get to use that product, they will think about the donor that gave it to them and know that they are touching the lives of many, many people in Amarillo,” she said. 

But the special part of the bags for Thompson are the notes that community members write to members of the hospital system’s staff. 

“(The notes) mean that people are taking time out of their busy day and with everything going on in their life … to write to people that they don’t know, to show how much that they care and what they are doing makes a difference. It goes a long way,” she said as she teared up. “It gives them the incentive and the motivation to keep going, that they are making a difference and people are noticing.” 

This effort all stems from the need to show the love of Jesus Christ and kindness to the frontline workers putting in a lot of hours at the hospital, Buddy Young said. 

“I think for me, it just says that we are just doing the kindness that someone would do. The Lord has been kind to us and to these churches. We just want to show kindness to these people and show them that we care,” he said. “We care for you. We love you. We want to be a part of what’s going on. … This, for me, says that if it brings joy to one healthcare worker, administrator, that’s what I want to do.” 

Susan Young said from her own personal experience, with a family member being a COVID-19 patient in the hospital, she sees how hard these hospital staff members are working. She hopes others in the community see this continued need in the community and motivate individuals to give back. 

“I know many of these people are running on empty. It makes me feel better thinking that maybe I helped them be able to push through another day or maybe, helped fill their cup a little bit so they can give to someone else,” she said. “(We were) honored to be able to do this for them … We all just need to take care of one another … I am a Christian and I feel like that’s the way we are supposed to behave. We love one another. We care for one another.” 

The Youngs hope to continue distributing goodie bags in the future, with the hope of collecting enough supplies to distribute bags to staff members at the Amarillo VA Healthcare System, as well as teachers and other staff members at local schools. Those interested in participating in future distributions are asked to email Susan Young at 

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