OTTAWA -- Two friends plan to deliver a thank you to nurses working in intensive care units at Ottawa hospitals during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they're inviting you to help show appreciation to staff on the frontlines.

Meaghan Lalande and Kirstin Graystone launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to provide gift cards to nurses to purchase meals during their shifts, after Graystone shared stories from a family member working as a nurse in the ICU at the Montfort Hospital.

"She was telling me stories about how the patients are younger, people in the same family. Initially, probably a month ago, they were really short-staffed. She was leaving work completely burnt out at the end of the day," said Graystone in an interview with CTV News Ottawa Sunday afternoon.

"It's not comforting to hear your family so upset from their work every day."

Lalande says the two talked about "how difficult and overwhelming" the responsibilities for nurses must be during the pandemic, and they wanted to find a way to say thank you.

"Sending some meals in so that a particular shift of nurses could maybe eat together, feel the community's appreciation for their sacrifices and hopefully that would bolster them at least for a small time in terms of what I imagine is a really daunting and overwhelming set of challenges that they face," said Lalande.

As of Sunday afternoon, $12,000 had been donated to the "Help Support Ottawa ICU staff during COVID" fundraising campaign.

"It is our hope that by raising money to provide meal delivery to ICU staff we can raise their spirits (at least a little) during a difficult shift and show them how much their community appreciates and values their incredible contributions," said Lalande and Graystone on the GoFundMe page.

They will use the donated money to provide gift cards or cash to nurses working in the ICU to purchase meals during their shift.

Graystone and Lalande hope to deliver the first set of gift cards to nurses at the Montfort Hospital this week, which is National Nursing Week in Canada. Meals will be provided for six different shifts working in the ICU.

"We're trying to cover enough shifts at the Montfort to get to touch as many nurses, and then we'll move on to the other hospitals," said Graystone, adding managers at the Montfort Hospital have been helpful with the planning.

The pair plan to deliver meals to ICU nurses at the Queensway Carleton Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital Civic and General Campuses later this month.

Graystone and Lalande say while they're surprised their fundraising campaign has raised so much, they knew the community would rally to support a worthy cause.

"We're not surprised the community is so behind the nurses and ICU staff. These people are working so hard, and they're protecting and helping everybody's neighbour, friends, family get through this horrible time," said Graystone.

"It's a really good reminder of the power of solidarity," added Lalande.

"Saying thank you and saying we acknowledge the incredible sacrifices you're making and we're sorry you have to make them can go a long way to help people feel validated and we hope reenergize them to continue with the challenges ahead."

To make a donation to the "Help Support ICU staff during COVID" GoFundMe page, visit