The Attitude of Gratitude

By Danica Fisher ’05, June 12, 2020
Two IC alumnae work together on gift boxes for frontline essential workers.

Patti Hester ’86 wanted to show appreciation for the courageous and selfless efforts of healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic who help keep others safe and the economy moving.  

But she wanted to go beyond merely expressing her thanks through words. So, she came up with The Gratitude Box in late March, a care box containing a water bottle and a variety of snacks and treats from leading food and drink brands such as S’well, KIND Snacks, Sugarfina, Alpine Start, and Chomp’s. 

Also included in the box is a brownie baked by Sheryl Bondy Perlow ’86 who owns Wicked Awesome Brownie in Marblehead Mass. Hester and Perlow met at Ithaca College where they were both communications majors.    

Frontline worker receiving Gratitude Box

A frontline worker receiving a Gratitude Box. (Photo submitted)

The goal of this initiative is to recognize frontline workers’ tireless efforts, while bringing a smile to their face. Additionally, net proceeds are donated to an organization that helps keep those workers safe on the job: Project N95, a non-profit national clearinghouse for critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies.  

Hester helped to get the project started. “There were a lot of companies expressing appreciation, which is so well deserved and was so necessary for the frontline workers to hear, but I wanted to go a step beyond that and provide them with little gifts, something that would brighten their day, put a smile on their face,” said Hester. “And I also wanted to make a meaningful gesture and raise funds.”  

Hester worked with Dreamr Inc. to create the Gratitude Box. “They loved the idea of some type of care box,” said Hester. The majority of the boxes’ contents were donated, it was very competitive especially for the centerpiece item the SUPERHERO bottle. Dreamr Inc. funded the design and production of the custom boxes, the social media marketing, tech and distribution. They curated the box, created the necessary technology and were ready for sale in under five weeks.  

The boxes can be delivered to anyone working on the front lines, including nurses, janitors, delivery services and grocery store employees. Additionally, organizations can purchase boxes for their customers or employees. 

“Anyone who is out there putting themselves at risk for the greater good to keep the economy moving and to keep people healthy and safe,” said Hester.  


If you or your organization would like to deliver a Gratitude Box to a frontline essential worker in your community, visit

Perlow became involved when Hester started looking for vendors to be a part of the Gratitude Box. She owns Wicked Awesome Brownie of Marblehead, Mass.  

“I was excited to be a part of this opportunity to give back,” she said. “This is a great thing to accomplish.”  

Hester was surprised at how quickly she found other vendors who wanted to participate in the project. “Folks jumped right in and were so generous,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised.” 

“At the end of the day, it is just doing a small part to help others that are going through this really challenging time.”

Patti Hester '86

Both Hester and Perlow overcame hurdles in bringing this project together. The box manufacturer that Dreamr was using had to shut down due to COVID-19, forcing a switch to another location for production.  

“There has been a lot of moving pieces, but I guess looking back that shouldn’t be surprising because of the delays with supply chains,” said Hester. 

Perlow faced the challenge of producing brownies at a higher quantity then she ever had in the past.  

“I had to make 3,500 brownies in a couple weeks,” she said. “I purchased a second commercial oven, hired high school students to help me with packaging and it became a real manufacturing situation. This was a big challenge.” 

Hester and Perlow helped each other through this project. “I’m very lucky and grateful that Patti came to me,” said Perlow. “I’m watching people talk about my brownies all over the country, and she’s created something to raise money for a cause that’s front and foremost right now.”  

The Gratitude Box was launched the third week in May and they have sold a third of their inventory in a few weeks. 

“At the end of the day it is just doing a small part to help others that are going through this really challenging time,” said Hester.   

“It was an honor to be part of the Gratitude Box project Patti came up with,” said Perlow. “To help raise money for healthcare workers is one thing, but as a small business, to be on the same tier as these other vendors and be part of this campaign, I was over the moon, and very proud to be among of this group of companies giving back.” 

The boxes can be purchased for individuals and sent to anyone with a note included. For anyone who would like to explore customizing the Gratitude Box for delivery in their communities or businesses, visit