JAMESTOWN, N.D. — With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll, she felt there was no better time than now to do a little something special.

Tia Benson, donated 800 gift baskets through Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit helping service men and women, caregivers and front-line health care workers.

She got the inspiration for donation baskets from her mother, who did something similar five years ago.

Originally planning on just delivering to the Jamestown Regional Medical Center, Benson and more than a dozen volunteers decided to deliver hundreds of gift baskets all across town. The Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, Jamestown Police Department, both city fire departments, and Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

“I thought, ‘OK this must be a sign, I gotta do it,'” Benson said.

The snacks, lotions, lip gloss, and bags of coffee were donated by Operation Gratitude, then donated by Benson. The seemingly small tokens of appreciation mean a lot to both her and those she’s giving to.

“The hospital was probably one of the best things ever. It made me feel really good,” Benson said. “They didn’t expect to have that much donated.”

Being a correctional officer, Benson too, in a way, feels the hardship of being on the front lines. She has a message for those facing more trying circumstances:

“There are people thinking about them,” she said. “They’re definitely not in it alone.”

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