‘Our way of giving back’: Verona woman gifts 300 care packages to local ER nurses

VERONA, Wis.– A Verona woman is giving back to her healthcare heroes this holiday season.

Cindy Jaggi and her train of helpers are making about 300 self-care boxes for ER nurses in the Madison area.

“It’s our Christmas way of giving back to the community and we’re loving every minute of it,” Jaggi said.

The boxes are filled with shea butter, lip balm, bath items, candles, coffee, chocolate and other things, all of it donated or sponsored by people in the community.

Jaggi’s cousin, Christine Konopacki Gratzke inspired this project called “Christine’s Heroes.”

“The ER nurses were Christine’s heroes and they are our family’s, too,” Jaggi said. “We know that in loving memory of Christine, that this is our way of giving back in a very small way.”

As an ER nurse, Konopacki Gratzke worked on the COVID-19 floor at Mercy Medical in Chicago. She died from the same illness that she worked so hard to save her patients from.

“She would try to comfort them, and she couldn’t take the place of their family, but she certainly was a comforting angel that could be with them during this difficult time,” Jaggi said.

Through Konopacki Gratzke’s eyes, Jaggi saw how challenging the pandemic is on both frontline workers and their patients.

“We did lose a beloved family member to COVID, and we’ve lost others in our family, as well,” Jaggi said. “This is real.”

This holiday season, Jaggi is saying thank you, not only to local nurses, but also Konopacki Gratzke.

“I feel her presence here and I just know the generosity of everyone who’s come forward to help us, I think we’ve had some intervention up above helping us out here,” Jaggi said.

Everyone can help make Jaggi’s Christmas wish come true.

“Reach out to your loved ones. Make sure they know they’re loved. Reach out to those who are shut in. Do something to pay it forward during this time,” Jaggi said.

Boxes will be delivered to all ER nurses in the Madison area starting Tuesday. Boxes will also be delivered to Konopacki Gratzke’s team in Chicago.