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| Updated: August 17, 2020 4 min read


How to show gratitude to essential workers

Posted: July 14, 2020 | Updated: August 17, 2020 | Joshua Grover-David Patterson 4 min read

When a community is in need—whether after a natural disaster or the recent pandemic—essential workers are frequently tasked with taking care of others, while knowing the risks to their own health and safety. And as the event unfolds, many may wonder how to show gratitude to those on the front lines. After all, expressing your appreciation not only feels good, it allows these workers to more easily concentrate on the task at hand.

Read on for tips about how to express gratitude to these dedicated employees and volunteers.


Check in

Many essential workers are trained in the art of helping others, but they don’t necessarily know how to ask for help for themselves. And sometimes, they may not know whom to ask. If your organization has a way to assist essential employees or businesses in your area, reach out to ask whether food deliveries, care packages or other support could help shoulder the load.


Join the team

Some essential businesses and organizations need more hands on deck. That was the situation for Meals on Wheels Plus in Abilene, Texas. The organization delivers food in insulated bags to 1,450 clients in four different counties five days a week—something that immediately became more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic.

Insulated bag helps keep items hot or cold.

Therm-O Tote Insulated Grocery Bag

Therm-O Tote Insulated Grocery Bag

“We lost all of our university students after spring break,” said Executive Director Betty Bradley. “And we have a lot of older volunteers with health problems who were unable to be out.”

Even as they were losing volunteers, new ones were stepping in to take their place. “We had a large number of people who signed up for training and are delivering who weren’t doing this before,” Bradley said.

“People signing up to volunteer for the first time is a great way to show their gratitude for the organization,” Bradley said.

Keep them fed

For essential workers handling long shifts, having time to get groceries and cook can be daunting. Giving gift cards to a favorite local restaurant can help them eat well when they might otherwise resort to eating whatever is easy and fast—or skipping meals completely. And purchasing from local businesses does double duty, helping two sets of essential employees.

Person holding a pizza box.

Provide funding

No matter what the community need, it’s likely one or more nonprofit organizations are involved in meeting residents’ needs. And that may put a strain on their budget. Because of the pandemic, Meals on Wheels Plus had to cancel multiple large fundraisers, which cut heavily into their revenue for the year.

And much like the influx of volunteers, financial supporters have filled some of the gaps. “Some people have sent larger donations that usually send smaller donations,” Bradley said. “And even people who send smaller donations have included a note thanking us for our service. Things like that are really nice.”

Person writing a thank-you card.

A handwritten note goes a long way in thanking essential workers handling long shifts.


Provide things workers want or need

Essential workers—from medical staff to delivery drivers—need everything from personal protective equipment (PPE) to items that can help them de-stress during their downtime. If you’re wondering how to show gratitude, contact local businesses and organizations to ask what they need.

For CAST Navigation in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, an order of hand sanitizer went from a useful giveaway to an essential need after the local newspaper featured a story about how local UPS® employees couldn’t get the hygiene product.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

With their trade shows pushed back, they found an immediate, important use for them. “We usually have a basket of candy on our front desk—we exchanged them for the hand sanitizers,” President and CEO Susan Gove said. Every delivery person—from the mail carrier to package delivery drivers—is encouraged to take one.

Since CAST Navigation is an essential service, employees also received the hand sanitizer. And Gove has shared some outside the office as well. “I gave one to the FedEx® man at my door and he said, ‘This is liquid gold.’”

“We just wanted everyone to stay safe and healthy,” Gove said.

Taking care of the essentials

When emergencies happen, essential workers are on the front lines, taking care of others. If you are wondering how to show gratitude to these dedicated teams, try these tips, along with useful giveaways, to make their jobs easier.

A woman in glasses scanning a pineapple in a store.

Looking for more information about this topic? Email 4ideas@4imprint.com with inquiries.


Ideas for showing gratitude to essential workers.

Refresh® Simplex Tumbler

Refresh® Simplex Tumbler

Crossland® Picnic Blanket

Crossland® Picnic Blanket

Thank You Note Card

Thank You Note Card