By MADDY VITALE
The Bickings and Monihans, both of Ocean City, share a bond of not just being neighbors and friends, but as families who dedicate their lives to helping others with food donation drives and other causes.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the couples, Julie and Christian Bickings and Chris and Andrea Monihan, who run Shore2Share, a food donation program, knew they had to find ways to help.
They agreed they wanted to show appreciation and admiration for emergency workers as well as all of the other essential employees.
They chose Shore Medical Center in Somers Point. Not only is it the closest hospital to Ocean City, but it is also where the husband of Julie Bickings’ best friend, Katie Grim, also from Ocean City, works as a physician. Keith Grim is an emergency room doctor at Shore.
“There is a crisis. We are doers. We were kicking around ideas about how we can help our community in this crisis,” said Julie Bickings.
They emulated an idea of Chris Monihan’s sister, who works in a North Jersey hospital, where they developed yard signs to unify the communities and benefit the hospital.
“We did the same thing but with the help of our children,” Bickings noted. The signs are available for sale by clicking https://mailchi.mp/7546c3739cdc/shoremedicalcenter-yardsign
Each sign sells for $25. All of the proceeds go to the COVID-19 response at Shore Medical Center.
The cost of the first 200 signs was donated by Chris and Andrea Monihan so the entire $25 will go directly toward the mission for the first 200.
Shore Medical Center will give reports on how much money has been raised and the couples and their friends will deliver signs directly to the yard of the person donating, while practicing social distances.
“The response we have gotten from friends and the community has been great,” Chris Monihan said. “Our goal is to raise $10,000 to $20,000. We will see what happens.”
While it was Chris Monihan’s idea for the fundraiser, he said the success of the drive will come from the many generous people in Ocean City and the surrounding communities to help the front line workers.
“We got the ball rolling, but everyone who is donating is really pushing the ball forward. By people talking and passing it along, hopefully it grows,” he noted. “I fully anticipate it will take off. It is something heartwarming that everyone can be a part of.”
And while raising funds to help the hospital workers is essential, the lawn signs have an even more significant meaning.
“The money is fantastic. But I think if everyone becomes aware of the sign and when a healthcare worker, grocery store worker or postal worker sees the sign, they can see we show our appreciation to others. It is a great way to lift the spirits of others, too,” Monihan explained.
Bickings’ husband, Christian, who is very supportive of the project, is busy in his position at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Currently he is tasked with helping to set up remote hospitals that will serve as treatment centers for coronavirus patients, she said.
“We specifically have been in contact with the emergency department at Shore about their greatest needs. The needs change each day and so the money will fund whatever the greatest need is at the time,” Bickings said.
The design is simple: A rainbow, with a smiley face and a handprint.
“The rainbow represents hope and the child-like design shows hope that the healthcare workers will get us through,” Bickings said. “They are the ones who will make it happen — in addition to everyone staying home.”
Julie and Christian Bickings have four children, Caroline, 10, Alice, 8, Rose, 6, and Johnnie, 3. The children helped to design the sign. The Monihans’ daughter, Renee, 2, helped create the rainbow, while 8-month-old Marin Monihan watched, Chris Monihan said with a chuckle.
“It is truly kid-created with guidance,” Julie Bickings said of the design of the lawn signs.
“We put it up less than 24 hours ago and already it raised $1,400,” Bickings said Friday afternoon. “We really want the proceeds to help the people on the front lines.”
For more information contact Chris Monihan at 609-602-3336 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.