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Better Together: Fremont Teenage Siblings Launch 'Cards 4 COVID Heroes'

FREMONT (CBS SF/AP) -- Fremont teenage siblings Prabhleen and Mantej Lamba have experienced the growing uncertainty of everyday life as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a grip on the San Francisco Bay Area.

What has impacted them the most, they say, has been the sacrifices of medical workers around the world who are risking their physical and mental health on the pandemic's front lines.

So they decided they needed to act.

"During these times of darkness and uncertainty, we just wanted to try to shine some light on the fact that we do have true heroes working on the front lines who are trying their hardest to save people's lives," said Mantej, 17.

"We were really moved by this (the sacrifices of medical workers)," said Prabhleen, 15, "and we knew that we had to involve our community and take action."

So in the spirit of the Sikh faith's core principle of "seva," or selfless service, the teens have launched an initiative they called 'Cards 4 COVID Heroes' to let health care workers know how much they're appreciated.

In just two months, they've collected more than 250 thank you cards from members of the community, mailed to their home in Fremont. Then they've sent them to workers at four hospitals — each along with a $10 VISA gift card.

The handwritten cards are often decorated with hearts, flowers, stars. One had a drawing of a hospital with the phrase, "Heroes work here." Girl Scout Troop 31164's message: "Thank you for going to work every day and being there when we need it the most."

The teens also created an e-card option that lets people go online and fill out a Google form. They then print out the message submitted there on a template that the siblings created. One of the cards pictures doctors and nurses donning capes and an image of Spider-Man with a stethoscope.

So far Prabhleen and Mantej have sent cards to the UC Davis Medical Center, the Los Angeles Community Hospital, the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the Chandler Regional Medical Center in Arizona.

For the first two weeks, they drew on friends and family for support, but then they started a GoFundMe page to collect donations and buy more cards.

The feedback has been rewarding.

"We received pictures from the health care workers, and we can just see from their faces that a small nod of encouragement with a small $10 gift card can go a long way to encourage them and to help them get through the difficult days," Prabhleen said.

"They know that, 'OK, we're not alone. And there are people who do support us and care for us,'" she said.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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