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Wallingford family raises money to give free coffee to healthcare workers

Wallingford family raises money to give free coffee to healthcare workers



WALLINGFORD — Nurses and doctors at Gaylord Hospital were treated to free coffee from a gourmet coffee truck, courtesy of a local family selling homemade lawn signs to raise money for health care workers.

“I wanted to find a way to spread positivity among the community and I really wanted to give back to those who are sacrificing so much keeping us safe,” said Mitchell Wollen, 16, who has been creating and selling wood “thank you” signs to raise money since April 5.

The Wollen family used $4,000 to purchase 150 cups of coffee for Gaylord staff from Rogue Coffee Co., which visited the hospital on April 23.

“It’s a counterweight to the stress and the severity of a pandemic, you know, to have that cup of coffee, that smile, that great story that someone is watching and paying attention and wanting to do something to help,” said Tara Knapp, Gaylord’s vice president of development, marketing and public relations.

Seeing the signs — red hearts with “thank you” in white paint — around town is also encouraging to staff, Knapp added.

“It’s a wonderful grassroots effort and for a lot of people who don’t know what to do and how to express themselves during this time, he gave people an outlet by providing lawn signs and then he turned that into a gift for health care workers,” she said.

The positive message had already sunk in for the medical staff lined up, six feet apart, from the coffee truck all the way to the hospital’s front door. Some were already signing a “thank you” board for the family, who stopped by during the event.

“Everyone was very, very appreciative of having a little treat and a ‘thank you’ for all that they’ve been doing,” said Shannon Oneto, co-owner of Rogue Coffee Co.

Wollen, a Xavier High School student, and his family began making the signs and selling them to a few family members and friends who saw a Facebook post his mother, Julie Wollen, made on April 5. Within days the demand increased and the family was spending nine to 14 hours per day making and delivering signs over spring break.

Nearly every home on the family’s cul-de-sac has a sign on their lawn and they’ve received orders from as far as New Jersey. The minimum donation is $15, with an extra $5 if it’s being delivered.

With her daughter back from college and her husband making runs to home improvement stores to pick up donated supplies, Julie Wollen said the project has brought the family closer together.

“It’s actually been nice to bring us all together to work on a common thing,” she said.

dleithyessian@record-journal.com203-317-2317Twitter: @leith_yessian


"It's a counterweight to the stress and the severity of a pandemic, you know, to have that cup of coffee, that smile, that great story that someone is watching and paying attention and wanting to do something to help."

-Tara Knapp
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