When Karl Nieva celebrated his birthday last month, the Waterloo resident decided to buy presents for a bunch of strangers.

"I decided to celebrate my 49th with a donation of 49 coffees," said Nieva.

Those coffees were given to staff at Grand River Hospital.

"What else better to celebrate people that are saving lives and giving lives," he added.

A clinical manager for the hospital's mental health adult in-patient program said several of her staff received Nieva's gift.

"It's much appreciated," said Alissa Rusk. "It has been quite challenging for hospital staff. They are trying to provide the best possible care that they can without enough staff on the unit."

According to Paul McIntyre Roysten, the CEO of GRH Foundation, Nieva's donation has been one of the most special stories they've heard of recently.

However, Roysten noted that more than 3,000 coffees and several meals have been donated since the GRH Foundation implemented their “Token of Support” program about a year and a half ago.

The tokens have been given to staff by management.

"They will actually walk around and hand them out for people having a bad day or you need a bit of an escape," said Roysten. "It doesn't solve the problem, but it makes that situation that much better. A moment of pause, a moment of reflection on a very difficult day for the teams."

Nieva said this pandemic birthday wish was to simply say to health care workers "we appreciate you and we have your backs."