With so many people in New Jersey hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Transportation Security Administration officers at Newark Liberty International Airport hand-crafted get well cards for individuals in isolation as well as cards of encouragement for the medical staff who are tending to those patients at Community Medical Center in Toms River, New Jersey.
With the passenger flow into the airport down to a trickle, TSA officers had some time between the screening of travelers to make get well cards. Cards of support were also created for nurses, doctors and other health professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic.
TSA officer Cynthia Hoyles’s cousin, a local nurse, mentioned the mood of COVID-19 patients at the hospital where she works in Toms River and mentioned how get well cards of encouragement might be helpful. Hoyles brought that idea to her colleagues at TSA and the project began. Using construction paper, colorful markers and a little glue, TSA officers created 70 cards.
Since no visitors are permitted to enter the hospital, Hoyles asked her cousin to take the cards to the hospital to distribute to hospital staff and patients.
“The people in isolation, they are getting depressed because they have no visitors, so we hope the cards will help give them hope and brighten their day,” said Hoyles, who has been working at TSA for a little more than a year.
The officers made the cards “from their heart. This area has been hit hard by the virus and our officers can relate to what has been going on at the hospitals. The officers were eager to participate” in the project, Hoyles said.
“We in TSA are no stranger to challenges or even danger,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Our daily work requires us to potentially be in harm’s way, as we seek to detect dangerous people and items so they don’t harm others or our transportation network. However, we are now tasked to do that same hard work in the midst of a global pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives and sickened countless others. Once again, TSA New Jersey is standing tall and answering our call to duty. It has hit us hard. More than two dozen of our staff contracted this awful virus, and one of our canine handlers, Frank Boccabella, passed away as a result. Yet, our team carries on, not only supporting each other in this challenging environment, but also supporting the community as a whole. I’m extremely proud of them.”