GUELPH -- A group of landscape architect students from the University of Guelph felt compelled to somehow help hospitals during the pandemic.

Ethan Aquino-Chien said last December he and fellow classmates in his masters program wanted to do more than just their schoolwork online.

“Our job was to stay home and not to anything dumb while these guys are risking their lives every day,” said Chien at a special event last Tuesday at Guelph General Hospital.

“So we kind of came together. We had one idea, and we just rolled with it.”

That idea became a grassroots project called One Bench, One Tree, with the aim to put a bench and plant a tree at hospitals as a thank you to front line health care workers.

“The whole point of this is to have front-line workers to have a space to rest, to sit down, to get away from the busy-ness of life,” said Chien.

Nine Ontario hospitals have had a tree and bench installed by One Bench One Tree.

The last one was at Guelph General Hospital, which was paid for by the Rotary Club Guelph South.

“We are just thankful for those groups for doing what they’ve done to think about our caregivers, and what they've been experiencing over the last nineteen months,” said Rob Cameron from the Guelph General Hospital Foundation.

Organizers of One Bench One tree plan on installing benches and trees at ten more hospitals over the next year.