Dayton nurse to help fight coronavirus in NYC receives giant donation

An army of helpers in the Xenia Community Schools armed a local nurse with hundreds of medical supplies to take with her as she heads to New York City.

Organized by Donna Shaw, the gifted coordinator for Xenia Community Schools, a troop was rallied within 24 hours of learning that Heather Combs, the mother of a fifth grader at McKinley Elementary would be leaving Thursday with 400 nurses to help in the fight against COVID-19 in one of the most severe areas.

“We just kind of put a plan into action and the results were pretty amazing,” Shaw said. “The response was overwhelming.”

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Combs, a nurse practitioner at Miami Valley Hospital, told Shaw her luggage Thursday morning weighed over 300 pounds because of all the supplies she was bringing. Fortunately, American Airlines waved the baggage fees

When Shaw put out the call to help on Tuesday to social media and emails, Shaw said they were able to reach almost 5,000 people.

Students, teachers, parents and people in the community were able to collect 286 masks, 2 nurse caps, 380 ear savers — some hand-sewn, some crocheted, some even 3D printed — hand sanitizers and over 100 cards and notes from students and strangers from the community were also stowed away for the trip.

“She has just been an incredible volunteer for us,” Shaw said. “Pretty much every field trip we have she’s chaperoned. We recently moved to a new building and she came in to paint cabinets and just did things that we could not have done without her.”

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When Shaw dropped off the first load of supplies to Combs Wednesday morning, she was overwhelmed and full of gratitude.

Pre-coronavirus, every April is a dedicated service month with different service learning opportunities for students to participate in. However, in March, Shaw said the schools switched gears to begin cranking out face masks for health care workers.

About 750 masks were already donated from the school district to hospitals and to at-risk people even before the effort to help prepare Combs for New York.

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One seventh-grade student sent Shaw an email letting her know he was going to have 32, 3D printed ear savers for her before Combs was ready to leave.

The effort also included students younger than third grade who helped make cards for combs and helped put together the ear savers.

“I think they are just kind of learning what it really means to be able to give of yourself and not expect anything in return and that’s certainly one of the things we want to drive home with the kids,” Shaw said. “You have a lot of talent and gifts and if you can use that to better someone else’s life without expecting anything else in return, that’s pretty cool.”

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