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Coronavirus: Lethbridge non-profit making hundreds of garment bags, headbands for health-care workers

Cora Walkey shows off the reusable bags Stitch It Forward is donating to health-care workers in and around Lethbridge.
Cora Walkey shows off the reusable bags Stitch It Forward is donating to health-care workers in and around Lethbridge. Eloise Therien / Global News

A non-profit is helping nurses and other health-care workers in the Lethbridge area while passing the time during the COVID-19 pandemic with a fun hobby: sewing.

Cora Walkey is the co-founder of the Stitch It Forward Society of Lethbridge. She started the organization about a year ago with her mother after her father had open-heart surgery.

“The nurses gave him this heart pillow to help when he stood up so it didn’t hurt so much,” Walkey said.

She was told the pillows were made entirely by volunteers and that the hospital would run out very quickly.

“We started sewing these heart pillows for the Foothills hospital and it grew,” she said. “Just last week we took three huge garbage bags full of heart pillows to Foothills.”

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Now with around 40 volunteer sewers, the organization is constantly shifting its focus to the needs of the community.

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In the past, volunteers have sewn teddy bears and bags for schools, but now with the pandemic putting extra stress on the health-care system, Walkey said they were inspired to start sewing garment bags for health-care workers after seeing an outcry on Facebook.

“We got about 400 bags sewn by all of our volunteers,” Walkey said.

She added that 100 were given out on Friday alone, and they are in need of cotton donations.

For those required to wear surgical masks, Walkey said the constant rubbing can be painful behind the ears.

“We’ve been getting lots of requests for headbands with buttons… [to] help keep the straps off their ears,” she said.

Chinook Regional Hospital is not taking the donations, so the organization is fulfilling requests from anyone who asks them individually through the group’s Facebook page.

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To keep the items as sanitary as possible, Walkey suggests washing everything thoroughly once received.

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“The ladies bring them to me washed and in a Ziploc bag, and then I put them with the rest of them,” she said. “But when you get it, definitely wash it. Get rid of all the germs.”

Walkey said they have been holding off on making cloth masks, as the public is being reminded by health officials that non-medical masks haven’t been proven to protect those wearing them.

On the Government of Canada website, it states: “Wearing a non-medical mask [like a homemade cloth mask] in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However the use of a non-medical mask or facial covering can be an additional measure you can take to protect others around you.”