Before the global pandemic brought local events to a grinding halt, “About Town Deb” — aka Debbie McCarthy — spent most of her time attending events and fundraisers, traveling and helping our community in other ways. So when the COVID shutdown sent everyone home, she didn’t know what to do with herself.
To make matters worse, she was sidelined at a time when people needed her positivity more than ever.
“I stayed home because I’m older, and I have a lung condition,” she says. “But it was hard when I saw all these people out helping, and I knew that’s what I needed to be doing, too.”
Feeding Our Heroes with More Than Food
Then a group of local restaurants joined together with community supporters to Feed Our Heroes, providing meals for front-line healthcare workers.
“I wanted to donate something personal with those packages, like a book or lotion, but that wasn’t financially feasible,” McCarthy says.
While she was brainstorming what to give, she realized that the other challenge with this pandemic is that you can’t see each other’s smiles or facial expressions because of the mask — and this at a time when we can all use a smile. She came up with the idea of a wristband to remind wearers that we’re all in this together and that we need to be extra kind to one another.
Working with her advertising agency partners, Chris and Courtney Meredith of Design on Edge, she came up with the idea for “Together, We Are One Heart.” Design on Edge designed the graphic, and then McCarthy paid to order and donate hundreds of wristbands.
“I couldn’t have done this by myself,” she says. “Eric Castillo, of Lee Creative, helped get the word out through social media. And Rounds Bakery contributed 160 deliciously soft chocolate chip cookies to go with the wristbands for deliveries to 80 local businesses.”
In addition to healthcare workers, these have been given to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, UPS delivery drivers, restaurant and grocery employees and hundreds of others.
“I can’t smile and I can’t hug, but I can pass these out and know I’m doing something,” McCarthy says.
Not Just A Now Thing
While the idea for the bracelets was born because of the pandemic, it’s McCarthy’s intention for this message to carry on. “It’s not just one time, I hope this is a forever thing,” she says. “We need to remember that we’re all connected and how important we are to each other.”
How You Can Help
McCarthy has set up a website where anyone can donate. For every $2 you spend, they will donate a bracelet on your behalf to an essential worker in the community. If you donate $5 or more, they will send you one as well.
“It’s a way to give somebody something that says, ‘I care,” she says.