CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group of Charlotte moms did their part to help healthcare professionals amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I knew it was going to be a good thing,” said Charlotte mom Penelope Hefner. “I didn’t know how good of a thing it would be until we got to the hospital.”

Hefner’s mom and dad own Dorian’s Deli in Matthews. She went to the deli to help pack more than 70 lunches for the staff at Novant Matthews. The lunches were provided by the deli at cost.

They were paid for by a group of Charlotte moms from the M2M community.

Thousands of Charlotte moms, including Hefner, are part of a private Facebook group called M2M, a place for moms to chat, connect, and share.

Many moms posted asking for ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

The five M2M admins got together to discuss how to use the group to make a big impact. They decided to connect locally-owned restaurants that desperately need the business to hospital employees working the front lines of the coronavirus.

The post to the M2M community read in part, “We will be collecting money to purchase as many meals as possible to be delivered to some of the staff on the front lines at our Charlotte-metro hospitals. Obviously we cannot feed every person working at every hospital but we will do our best to provide as many meals as possible.”

More than $2,400 was donated by Venmo through the weekend, electronic donations ranged from $5 to $100.  The electronic donations ranged from $5 to $100.

The M2M admins reached out to locally owned restaurants to participate and area hospitals if they're accepting food donations. All four hospitals said they could, as long as they were boxed meals and came from restaurants.

When Hefner and her parents arrived at Novant Matthews with the meals, they were greeted by a head nurse for the ICU.

“She was so happy. She said to me, ‘I want to hug you so bad but I can’t,” Hefner said.

The gratitude of the hospital staff brought Hefner and her mom to tears.

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Rusty’s Deli, locally owned and operated for almost 32 years, also pitched in.

“This was our little version of doing something for the hospital, the people out on the front lines,” said Peter Estes of Rusty’s Deli.

Through the donation from the M2M moms, they were able to provide 100 boxed lunches. The donations paid for the cost of food, and Rusty’s donated the labor.

Dorian’s Deli provided 70 meals to Novant Matthews. Bill Spoon’s provided 40 meals to Atrium Uptown. Rusty’s Deli provided 100 meals to Novant Pineville. Taziki's provided 40 meals to Novant Uptown.

Donations continued to come in after the food orders were placed and more than $1,000 in gift cards to locally-owned restaurants were purchased to distribute between the hospitals.

One hospital sent a note of thanks saying, "There aren't enough words to express our gratitude.  We are working hard to keep our patients and community safe during this challenging time.  Again we thank you and the entire group!"

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WCNC Charlotte’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit wcnc.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Carolinas specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 704-329-3600. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning by subscribing to the Wake Up Charlotte newsletter here.

The state of North Carolina has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 866-462-3821 or read the frequently asked questions.  In South Carolina, for general questions about the coronavirus, call the DHEC Care Line 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.