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“Hug in a Cup” gifts allow you to give recognition and presents to healthcare workers

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Courtesy of Candace Jones

IDAHO FALLS — A group of local women have started a non-profit effort to help, support and honor healthcare workers that they call “The Hug in a Cup Initiative”.

The group was founded by Idaho Falls residents Candace Jones, Jenna Johnson, Melanie Powell, and Courtney Adams. They started the project to locate workers that are in need of a boost and simply say “we see you and we thank you.”

Their goal is to find, through nominations, those who play any role in caring for those affected in these trying times that needs a boost. Once a nominee is chosen, they are presented with a Hydro Flask filled with various gift cards, along with notes of thanks from the group and those that nominated. Their stories can be followed on their Instagram with the handle @thehuginacupinitiative.

“This project is NOT just limited to doctors and nurses, we want to recognize ANY and ALL employees in any healthcare facility, as we are very aware of the importance of each position,” their news release said.

(From left to right) Candace Jones, Jenna Johnson, Courtney Adams, and Melanie Powell | Courtesy of Candace Jones

Jones spoke with and explained that the idea for the initiative came after observing the efforts of healthcare workers. Both Jones and Johnson have husbands that work in the healthcare field, and although their schedules were always busy, now more than ever, they are exhausted.

“In a (regular) night shift, he can usually rest for an hour or two and wait for a call,” Jones explained about her husband. “He is definitely on his feet more (now).”

The long shifts aren’t even the most tiring part. Jones added that because visitors can’t regularly see those affected with COVID-19 in the hospital, it is the healthcare workers that bond with them.

“My husband will come home in tears about a patient that he has stayed with until they passed,” Jones said.

After the group decided they wanted to be proactive in helping, they went to social media to ask for ideas on how to do it. It started with followers simply donating money through Venmo, and the women would send virtual Starbucks gift cards, calling them “a hug in a cup.”

Once donations started filling in, Jones’s husband had the idea to gift the healthcare workers with a Hydro Flask. Because of their busy work schedules, they aren’t as able to get cold drinks regularly, and having an item like will allow them to stay hydrated. It also fits with the “Hug in a Cup” theme.

Currently, the group has reached out to many local businesses for support in gifting gift cards or other forms of donations and got an overwhelming response. Businesses like Chick-fil-A, Pick Me Up, Drink Factory, and Apple Athletic Club were happy to participate. Al’s Sporting Goods even offered discounts on the purchase of the Hydro Flasks.

The group encourages the public to nominate anyone involved in healthcare — whether they work with pandemic patients or not. People can donate any amount they can to the cause.

“We are just going to keep doing it until the money runs out,” Jones told

To nominate someone, simply write an email to, with either an explanation of why you are nominating the individual, or a direct letter to the individual themselves. The nomination letters will be printed and presented to those that receive the gifts.

Donations are accepted through Venmo with the handle @huginacup, or in person through the Bank of Commerce. Businesses can receive receipts of their donation for tax purposes if requested.

Currently the non-profit is only focusing on the Idaho Falls area, but is hoping to expand in the future.