Students thank workers on COVID-19 front lines


COVID-19 mask

College students across the country are coming together during their time in quarantine to support the vision of Honor And Thank.

Kathleen Kilmer, CEO of, created a platform called Honor And Thank where people can spread gratitude to those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her band of student volunteers have created a page on the website where people can post messages of appreciation for workers at every facility in the U.S. The site even allows for posting videos straight from a phone.

Kilmer pointed out that these front-line workers are both the visible and invisible heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. They include the doctors and nurses seen in the hospitals and clinics and all the people behind the scenes — those who work in labs, food service, janitorial, security and many others keeping these facilities running.

“The Honor And Thank initiative offers a unique opportunity for everyone, regardless of how much money you have or how much time you have, to show their support and help motivate millions of these front-line workers within a quick two-minute message,” Julia Yeh, a business and economics major at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, said.

Volunteers started pouring in once the site got started, and now there are over 700 college students volunteering their time and skills.

“Personally, I wanted to work on it because as a college student, I tended to live in my ‘university bubble,’ but this presented an opportunity to make a difference outside my normal world,” Kate Hartman, advertising major at the University of Tennessee, said.

Driven by a sense of community service, these students are offering their public relations, social media and research skills to promote this grassroots effort. At this point, each facility has over 80 messages.

Locally, the BGSU chapter of Alpha Phi Omega has taken on the campaign as a service project. APO marketing chair, Marianne Vanderbeke, works with the campaign and brought it to her fraternity as an option for virtual service during the stay-at-home order.

“APO is a service fraternity and we are always looking for a way to help the world be a better place. This campaign fit right into what we do. Even if we weren’t on lockdown, it’s something we would do,” Vanderbeke said.

Across the country, students from various backgrounds and majors are coming together to make something special happen. It isn’t without its benefits though. The students are getting the opportunity to put skills they are learning in the classroom into a real-world situation — during a time when many internships are on hold due to social distancing. 

“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me, something that could bring some light to the situation we are in now. Also, it’s great for me to get experience when other opportunities for remote work are scarce,” Sequoia Marriott, a marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, said.

These three sophomore students would most likely never have had the chance to interact ⁠— different universities, different majors, different worlds ⁠— but have been brought together by a desire to serve a cause bigger than themselves and the vision of a woman who wanted health care workers to feel appreciation.

Mi’a Toomer, communication major at Youngstown State University, wrapped it up by quoting someone who inspired her.

“I was inspired by a speaker, Jarriod A. Burch. He challenged us students. He asked us how we are going to be legendary in this time of crisis. And up until that moment I always wanted to make a difference, but thought I could really only make a difference after I got my degree. He made me realize we all have some power to make a difference regardless of status.”

For more information, or contact Marianne Vanderbeke at 877-337-5261 extension 4.