Coronavirus News: NJ yoga instructor donates food for frontline workers fighting COVID-19

MONTVALE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey yoga instructor is doing her part to help local merchants stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses from around the country have found a home away from home at a Bergen County hotel.

For the last month and a half, the staff at the Courtyard by Marriot in Montvale, and the local community have made sure frontline workers wouldn't have to worry about getting a hot meal.

These frontline workers are from the Midwest, the South, the West Coast and right here in our area working long days at hospitals.

"These nurses they work 12 to 14 hour shifts, sometimes 16 hour days," Front Office Manager Michael Proto said.

But ever since the first nurse checked in, the staff at the hotel has made sure dinner is ready.

"We know what they're going through, thank God we have a job and thank God these people are here to help us out," Proto said. "It's one less thing they have to worry about, they're worried about intubating people and putting themselves in danger."

The food sustaining these frontline workers was organized by Stacy Frischman Lauber, a yoga instructor whose Facebook community bent over backwards to help out.

"An outpouring of wanting to help -- it's just overwhelming," Lauber said.

Her children's friends, a school PTA, and local community groups all came together and donated $5 to $500 to her Venmo page, Food for Frontliners.

"My goal became to support not only the doctors and nurses, but also to help my local community -- my favorite places and keep them afloat," Lauber said.

But many struggling restaurants wouldn't even accept money, opting to donate food instead.

Three-time champion of the show "Chopped," New Jersey chef Chris Holland, along with the owner of D'Vine Bar in Sparkill, joined other local take-out only outlets in making and delivering meals.

Every afternoon, trays are brought in and dropped off and the staff at the Marriott sets it up for the health care workers to safely heat and eat.

"I just want to say thank you for everybody who has donated," said Erin Cuite, a nurse from Suffern staying at the Marriott.

Another nurse, Cassandra Mendoza, said it helps a lot.

One nurse, Travis Wehmeyer, even sent a video. Wehmeyer is back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after volunteering to work at a local hospital.

"I just want to give a shout out from Tulsa," Wehmeyer said. "To everyone who donated food at the Courtyard by Marriott in Montvale, we love you guys, the amount of support is overwhelming."

Joining the nurses now are police officers, doctors and even construction workers. Some of them are from other states and some are local, who are working the front lines as essential workers but don't want to risk infecting their own families.

As long as they are here, the community vows to keep all of them fed for free.

The Venmo page created by Stacey Lauber is under @Food-for-Frontline if you want to donate to keep the food train going!

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