TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay man is making sure health care workers are not forgotten now, almost a year in to the coronavirus pandemic, providing meals to those across the area while on his own lunch breaks.
Patrick Rhodes is also known as Patrick “The Giver.” He began providing pizza to a few health care workers here and there when the coronavirus pandemic began to hit Tampa Bay and its emergency rooms.
“I would see images and social media posts about how hard our health care workers were working and just working long hours and trying to contain this pandemic. I said to myself…’I have to figure out some way to let them know that they’re thought about, that they’re cared about, that they’re in our prayers,'” he said.
Rhodes said he reached out to a foundation coordinator with Advent Health and got the ball rolling.
“I said, ‘hey, you know, I don’t have a lot, but I’d like to maybe buy a pizza for 10 to 15 people at a location. And it just went smoothly. She was amazing, she coordinated the drop-offs for me,” he explained. “I couldn’t go to the actual location because of the pandemic when it first started in 2020, so I would just use a delivery service, Pizza Hut, different local pizza places and just sent what I could.”
The effort grew into something bigger, thanks to the support of his family and friends. It’s something Rhodes is now calling the “Lunch for Healthcare Heroes campaign.”
He works with the Arby’s Foundation to provide meals on a weekly basis. Subway has also donated gift cards to purchase meals and Rhodes and his wife still give from their own pockets.
Rhodes comes from a family where many are members of the military and he said service for the country has “always been in his heart.” He holds health care workers in the same high regard he holds service members.
“I put them in the same field as protecting the country, because they’re providing healing, they’re providing comfort, so I put them in the same regard. I consider them heroes,” he said. “That’s why I always refer to ‘health care heroes,’ that’s what they are. When I saw how exhausted they were and dedicated to their craft, I was like, ‘hey, what can I do to show appreciation?'”
Rhodes has even been recognized nationally. In November, “Voss Water” held an acts of kindness campaign with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. For every act of kindness, every meal delivery provided, Rhodes would tag the campaign on social media or send an email.
It was enough for “The Rock” to give him a shout out – and to provide 200 meals to healthcare workers in Rhodes’ honor.
Rhodes said he is hoping to provide 2,021 meals in 2021 for health care workers across the Tampa Bay area.
“That’s been taking off so far. I’m over 100 meals and so I hope to have good news concerning some supporters in my local area to help me get that going,” he said. “So I’m excited about this whole movement in 2021 for sure.”
The main goal is promote kindness and make the Tampa Bay area community a better place.
“I always say if you’re living in the community, that community should be a little bit better because of you, because you’re there. That’s kind of my motto.”
Those in the community can aide in Rhodes’ efforts by going online or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He told 8 On Your Side anyone looking to help can provide gift cards from PostMates, GrubHub, UberEats and more.