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From dance to delivery

APDT hands out candy cane bombs to celebrate the holiday season

The Austin Packer dance team has taken the season of giving to heart.

An example of the candy cane bombs left on cars in the parking lot of Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin by the Austin Packer Dance Team. Photo provided

The team put together an organized effort to show appreciation to the community last weekend as dancers flooded the streets and handed out thank you notes and candy canes to all of those who need a boost. The recipients of the act of kindness included health care workers, health care patients, firefighters, police and officers.

Dance team members also dropped off flowers to the COVID-19 testing center.

Briella Wempner, a senior captain, was responsible for getting notes to cars in the parking lot of Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Austin. The cause was near and dear to her, considering hospital staff has had a difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What they are doing is something I couldn’t imagine putting myself into,” Wempner said. “I hope we brought a smile to their faces. They’ve made a sacrifice for us and they deserve all the ‘thank you’s’ in the world.”

The gesture served as a boost to the morale of health care workers, who are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with the recent releases of COVID-19 vaccines. Kirsten Johnson, vice chair of administration at Mayo Clinic Health Systems in southeast Minnesota, said the staff was very appreciative of the notes.

“What a great surprise after a long day and it puts that holiday spirit in everybody. It was definitely a random act of kindness for staff,” Johnson said. “It really keeps spirits high. It helps staff know that not only are we thinking about them, but the community is thinking about the help and support that they provide our patients. I’m sure it brought a smile to everyone’s face when they left work that day. For the younger generation to take that time thoughtful is very much appreciated.”

The Austin Packer Dance Team has delivered baked cookies in past holiday seasons, but the team decided dropping off notes with candy canes was the best way to show appreciation in a safe way this year. Wempner said it felt great to give and it also strengthened the team bond.

“It brings us together a lot. We’re used to working hard in practice, but we know there’s so much more to being on a team. It’s really heart warming to work together to give back,” Wempner said. “It’s important to remember to always give back. Even small gestures make the receiver and the person who did the gesture feel good.”