It’s something Brittany Lang Gill can do, an activity that engages her hands and heart. A creative outlet, but more than that. Something to stave off worry and make a connection. A way to honor the essential workers and all they give.
Days after losing her job because of the coronavirus, Gill began creating COVID-19–inspired coloring sheets and thank you postcards in honor of essential workers. They’re free for download.
“The thank you cards sort of felt like my way of connecting to those who aren’t getting to sit at home right now,” said Gill. “People who are out there doing work and doing scary jobs and hard jobs.”
There’s a thank you card for the doctors and nurses that incorporates a stethoscope and hypodermic needle in the design.
A thank you for the delivery people. One for our supermarket workers. One for the people who make our food. And one for the teachers.
You print them out, and where they go next depends on you.
“I’ve always been a big fan of a hand-written thank you note and snail mail and intentional communication, so I just thought that would be a sweet way to show some love,” said Gill.
And people need love right now because a lot of people are hurting, even Gill.
“I was the catering supervisor for the largest catering company in the Phoenix Valley before the pandemic,” says Gill.
She lost her job on March 13.
“For the first weekend or so, I had idle hands, just feeling a little bit stir crazy and bummed out,” said Gill. “I wanted to flip it on its head and use the time to create something that would connect with other people.”
After a weekend of feeling bad about her job loss, she cast about for inspiration. It finally came in the form of Dolly Parton.
You may have seen it. The Dolly Parton meme appeared on newsfeeds in early March with a timely play on the lyrics of her famous song “Jolene”:
I’m begging of you
Please don’t shake my hand
Gill decided to recreate the graphic as a downloadable coloring sheet, reckoning people might enjoy the distraction. She picked up her iPad and began to draw.
“I made the coloring sheet public and invited friends to color along with me,” said Gill.
The idea caught fire, so she kept drawing.
Many of her coloring sheets include nods to classic country tunes.
“I’m from Texas, and I was raised on country music, so that appreciation runs deep,” says Gill. “I went wherever inspiration took me.”
So far, inspiration has taken her to all over. She’s seen coloring sheet shares by people in Phoenix, where she lives, as well as Seattle and Austin and Memphis. She feels good knowing essential workers across the U.S. may be getting some mail.
A postcard from a moment in our history notable not only for illness, but for kindness, connecting us to the simple joy of coloring and the simple goodness of a handwritten thank you note.