AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even more appreciation for local healthcare workers is arriving this week in the form of care packages.

Two gyms in Austin are independently participating in the effort.

Castle Hill Fitness staff prepare their “care boxes” (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

One of them, Castle Hill Fitness, started packing its “care boxes” Tuesday morning. It was inspired by gymgoers who are frontline healthcare workers.

The gym is grateful for how much overtime local hospital staff has been working to care for COVID-19 patients.

“It really came about as a desire to express our gratitude to those workers and everything that they’re doing right now to keep Austin well,” Community Outreach Manager Elizabeth Nitz said.

The recent surge in hospitalizations factored into the gym’s generous decision. Dr. Mark Escott, the county’s interim health authority, said the area will more than likely be in Stage 5 for another month.

President of Seton Foundations, Miguel Romano, said his staff is thankful for the community’s support.

“During these difficult times, care packages and meals from the community provide a much-needed bright spot for our frontline teams,” he said.

What’s in the box?

Each Castle Hill Fitness “care box” is a package of practical items to help busy healthcare workers during long shifts. They contain healthy snacks and drink powders, deodorant wipes, sanitizer spray and thank-you cards.

The thank-you cards include an invitation to come in for a free one-month VIP membership.

The “care boxes” contain self-care items (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

“We definitely want folks to take care of themselves first so that they can provide the best possible care for others,” Nitz said.

Beyond the printed thank-you cards, Castle Hill staff also hand wrote additional ones — what Nitz is most happy to deliver.

“Just sincere words from the Castle Hill Fitness team,” she said. “To provide a personal touch and let them know that they’re receiving good thoughts from everyone in Austin.”

Castle Hill Fitness staff will deliver to local medical centers Thursday and Friday this week. The goods will go to hospitals’ emergency services and ICU departments. Locations include the three central Austin Ascension Seton hospitals, Dell Children’s Medical Center, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, and the three St. David’s hospitals.

Gratitude initiative for ‘heroes’

HEAT Bootcamp, another local gym, is also sharing gratitude for healthcare workers. Its team put together nearly 300 care packages, finishing just Wednesday night.

“[We] really wanted to at least contribute, in a small way, to provide these healthcare workers with a little self-care package that will hopefully bring a little comfort to their day,” Founder Cody Butler said.

Butler and other HEAT members delivered some of their colorful bags to UT’s Dell Seton Medical Center Thursday morning. You can see pictures from the drop-off below:

Butler said of the experience:

It really felt endearing to be able to hand these bags over, and again, to make that connection with the people who are taking care of our communities … You hear the stories and you see the social media posts, but to actually, in-person, do a virtual hug from six feet away and say ‘Hey, we love you, we care about you. Thank you for all that you do — It felt comforting but at the same time very surreal.

Between cash and donations from local businesses, HEAT raised close to $8,000 in gift bag items for four hospitals in Austin: Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, Dell Children’s Medical Center and St. David’s South Austin Medical Center ICU Unit.

Local contributors included Skin Envy, High Brew Coffee, Patika Coffee, Fluff Meringues, Wright Bros. Brew and Brew and more. Aside from coffee, HEAT’s care packages also include skincare products, clothing items such as disposable masks, socks and hair ties and gift cards. The gym also included one month of free boot camps.

HEAT encourages others to reach out to frontline communities in Austin and find out how they can help, including nursing homes and vaccine hubs, Butler said.