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Published on March 09, 2021

	table full of donated masks

Donations Show Kindness During COVID-19 Pandemic

During the first year of the pandemic individual donors and organizations throughout the Avera footprint stepped up to support our communities in ways that made differences in people’s lives during this difficult time.

Here’s how people stepped up to make a difference during this time.

Masks, Masks and More Masks

Mask shortages in April threatened to leave people without protection from the virus, but thanks to generosity of the people in our communities, that threat never materialized.

Instead, people started making masks at home and donating them. More than 30,000 cloth masks were donated to Avera since the pandemic began.

PlatinumCode – a vendor working with Avera PACE – donated 100,000 masks to Avera. The masks were donated to various community partners to help ensure people had access to masks.

Additionally, Avera donated more than 60,000 Avera-branded masks to school and non-profit groups, and hands them out at vaccination clinics. Avera also donated:

  • 2,000 reusable water bottles to the Sioux Falls School District in response to water fountains being shut down.
  • Thousands of individual bottles of hand sanitizers at vaccination clinics and other events.

Keeping Families Connected

In the early days of the pandemic, Avera made the difficult decision to suspend all visitors and encourage families to use phone calls or virtual visitation with FaceTime, Skype or similar platforms to visit loved ones in the hospital.

Seeing the increased need for technology, the Sioux Falls School District stepped in to help Avera patients who don’t own a smartphone or tablet by temporarily donating nearly 100 iPads to help patients and family connect through virtual visitation.

Students normally used the iPads, but the district moved to distance learning for the remainder of the school year, and wanted to put the iPads to good use.

Darlene and Paul EidsnessDarlene and Paul Eidsness

Helping Health Care Heroes

When the pandemic hit our footprint, the Avera Foundation raised more than $1.2 million to support the Avera Heroes Fund. These funds support Avera’s front-line employees, and the patients and families they serve.

Of the more than $1.2 million raised, Avera employees provided more than 500 gifts for a total of nearly $210,000, which has helped more than 1,000 of their Avera colleagues with:

  • Just-in-time needs awarded through Avera Emergency Assistance Fund
  • Rent, utilities, daycare and other urgent needs
  • Scrubs and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Meals
  • Lodging for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while serving our patients

A&B Business Solutions also provided a $200,000 matching gift to the Avera Heroes Fund, and the South Dakota Community Foundation gave more than $100,000 in combined gifts.

“Even during this trying time, the pandemic has brought out the best in our friends, neighbors and strangers,” said Dzenan Berberovic, Avera Chief Philanthropy Officer. “Our benefactors have provided hundreds of heartfelt gifts that directly support our heroes.”

The Avera Emergency Assistance Fund for COVID-19 supported employees who experienced unforeseen expenses resulting in an immediate, severe and temporary financial hardship due to COVID-19. Some of the expenses the fund helped with include:

  • Unforeseen additional expenses for childcare (i.e., having to pay a fixed cost to a closed daycare and paying a fill-in daycare provider in order to work.)
  • Isolation or time off due to COVID-19.
  • Care for a family member due to COVID-19 resulting in time away from work.
  • Additional expenses as a result of COVID-19, such as temporary lodging, food or clothing

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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