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From left, Dr. Doug Wilson, CEO-elect at Confluence Health, and Dr. Peter Rutherford, CEO, deliver mugs to Central Washington Hospital rehab unit employees as part of NCW Community Foundation's "Hug in a Mug" program to thank healthcare workers.


WENATCHEE — The Hugs for Healthcare Heroes campaign distributed its first round of 510 mugs last week to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee.

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Notes of encouragement from community members of all ages are included in each mug.

The mugs were sourced from local businesses and filled with $20 in local gift cards, snacks and other goodies. Each mug also contains a note of encouragement from students, community groups and families.

Cascade Medical in Leavenworth distributed mugs to its frontline employees in December. Employees at Columbia Valley Community Health and Lake Chelan Hospital will get their “Hug in a Mug” soon.

“Just in the greater Wenatchee Valley, we’ve been able to support over 60 small businesses and hope to purchase from even more for the next round of mugs for employees at CWH,” said Claire Oatey, the Community Foundation of NCW’s director of community grants.

Oatey and Mandi Burton-Carter, a physician assistant at Confluence Health, led the effort to lift the spirits of health care workers stressed by dealing with COVID-19. At the same time, it helps support local small businesses and gives community members an opportunity to get involved.

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Community Foundation of NCW's Claire Oatey, right, and Confluence Health Physician Assistant Mandi Burton-Carter, left, led the Hugs for Healthcare Heroes project with help from friends and community partners like Megan Parish from the Confluence Health Foundation, center. Here they are preparing the first round of hugs for distribution.

More than $25,000 was donated to Hugs for Healthcare Heroes to support employees at the health care facilities, said Jennifer Dolge, the foundation’s director of donor services and communication.

Some of business partners in the project include Cashmere Valley Bank, North Cascades Bank, Wenatchee Downtown Association, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Chelan-Douglas Health District, Heather Dappen Designs and North Central Accountable Community of Health.

Another round of mugs is in the works. The foundation is looking to add to its supply of notes from community members.

Notes can be dropped off at the Community Foundation, 9 S. Wenatchee Ave., in the no-contact dropbox. Pybus Public Market has a table set up for those who would like to participate in the note-writing effort.

Community members also can create hand-painted ceramic custom mugs through a partnership between the foundation and Inspirations Ceramic and Art Cafe in Wenatchee.

The completed mugs need to be back to Inspirations by Feb. 10 for firing and glazing. The foundation will fill the mugs with gift cards and goodies for distribution to health care workers.

For details on how to get involved — either in providing notes, mugs or gift cards from local businesses, go to