What started as a pizza delivery in December turns into a life of its own, in what is called “Feeding Our Frontline Heroes.”
ENCINITY – On December 12, amid a spike in COVID-19 after the Thanksgiving holiday in San Diego County, Syndee Wood picked up a stack of hot pizzas from Pandora’s Pizza in Leucadia and took them to Scripps Memorial Hospital.
At the door, he asked for a pizza to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit, where a friend of Wood’s work and recently informed him of his extraordinary condition with an ICU at 150 percent capacity.
That same evening, Wood, an assistant professor of English at Palomar, posted a photo of his visit to Scripps on Facebook.
“That’s how it all started,” he recalls. “I woke up the next morning and had enough donations for two more days to eat. Here it is, three months later, and it’s incredible. “
Soon Wood was sharing the workload with fellow volunteers, in an effort that had benefited locally owned restaurants such as health workers at Scripps.
Since that night in December, Wood and company have barely missed a day of delivery, spending an average of $ 300 per order. In all, their unique food drive has raised $ 24,000, all of which is used to purchase food for staff at Scripps.
Donations that can reduce taxes can still be made through Impact-Cubed, and the movement has spread beyond Scripps to include other local hospitals. It is now commonly known – and has been widely publicized – as “Feeding Our Frontline Heroes”.
“There’s a bit of a learning curve,” explains Wood. “We soon discovered that the food had to be something that could be held by hand so that the staff could eat very quickly – stand up, remove their masks and eat. Pizza, burritos, sandwiches, wraps are all reasonable. And it has to be small enough. So now we’re asking each burrito or sandwich to be cut in half and wrapped individually. “
During a recent interview, Wood said he had struggled to put his reaction to the experience into words.
“It is 360 degrees of unexpected kindness,” he said, adding that it was “truly humbled” to watch others join the struggle with support and a desire to participate.
Over the past three months, Wood has invited his social media followers to take part, often writing inspiring reflections along with his greetings to local restaurants and volunteers.
“Day Eleven,” Wood posted on December 22. “Twenty-four burritos from @mexicoviejo, and some French sweets from @isabelle_briens_frenchpastry.”
On Christmas Eve, he wrote, “In-N-Out burger tonight, folks. Sixty of them. “
In another post, he quotes his “hero and role model,” Lisa Nava, with whom Wood founded the nonprofit North County Justice Allies. It was Nava’s idea to deliver pizza to Scripps that night in December.
“One small gesture,” Wood quoted Nava as saying. One small post to the inter web. One small step to get out of comfort and get into action. This is what changed the world. No fan fare or spotlight. Without dreams of grandiose confessions. Quietly, activism stirs our hearts, and calls on those who dare to take action, big or small, to support those who need it. “
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