Sewing 1,600 Scrub Bags
Along with other parts of the province, locals have been sewing approximately 1,600 scrub bags for health care workers as a way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The bags can be washed along with the staff’s scrubs when they arrive home in order to help stop the potential transfer of the virus to their families. The plastic bags that many were using previously were said to be possible contaminants. After joining a Facebook group called, ‘Scrub Bags for Alberta Heath Care Workers,’ Janice Saville volunteered to look after the Lloydminster area, and Fran Schaumleffel volunteered to look after the Vermilion area. Saville knows quite a few nurses and said that a couple of her local Marwayne nurses are currently looking after a family member in the Vermilion hospital. “I sew calf ear warmers (MOO-ly Hoods) for baby calves through the winter and now that it is wrapped up, I figured I could put my industrial machine and serger to good use helping out a great cause; figured I could help out in some way. I found out about the Alberta group on April 3, and started talking to a friend that owns Fabricland on April 4, to see if we could get curbside pickup of material to get sewing these. I made the Facebook group called, ‘Scrub Bags for Health Care Workers - Lloydminster and Surrounding Areas’ on April 5, and our small but mighty group of about 60+ sewers has been sewing for almost two weeks. As of today, this amazing group of ladies has sewn almost 1,500 bags so far. We delivered 400 to the Lloydminster Hospital, and they were so grateful when I dropped them off, the nurses said that it felt like Christmas morning. They posted thank you messages on our Facebook group, and I received personal phone calls from heads of some of the departments which was also very heartwarming. Tomorrow I will deliver another 500 more to long term care centres. Hopefully by Sunday, we will have most of the bags out to the rescue squads, ambulance, dentist offices, doctors’ offices, and the Bea Fisher Center. Our requests were for 1,600 bags and as of tomorrow, we should reach that goal. We will get the rest out a few days after checking, sorting and washing the sewn bags. We have more places requesting them, but wanted to make sure we fulfilled these first. There are still ladies sewing as we have donated material to finish up, so there will be a trickle of bags coming in for another week or so,” said Saville. Busy at home with spring farm work and her children’s school work, etc. Saville still felt the urge to volunteer for the community. She said that by watching this pandemic take place and seeing all of the health care workers and emergency personnel on the front lines, she just wanted to help out in any way she could. “It’s hard to sit at home (even when there’s a ton to do with calving, working with horses, farm books to do, etc.) and watch all this go down and not know what to do. Everyone can do something, even if it’s in the littlest way like making scrub bags for everyone,” said Saville. Approximately 70 people from Vermilion, Lloydminster, Marwayne, Kitscoty, Paradise Valley, Dewberry, and into Saskatchewan from Paradise Hill, St. Walburg, Neilburg, Cut Knife, Maidstone and Marshal, volunteered to sew. “We’ve had a few ladies sew over 100 bags each so far. Bev at Fabricland has cut and donated over 800 bags worth of material. She started off saying she would donate the first 200 bags, but then could not bring herself to charge anyone who was donating their time and the material they were buying from her, so she continued on donating. Absolutely amazing to say the least. She has also sewed bags as well. There has been quite a few other fabric donations from people including cotton material, bed sheets, and pillowcases which has been amazing. We’ve had a few monetary donations and I’ve passed them onto Fabricland to help cover the cost of all the material she’s been donating. We’ve had ladies who don’t sew cut out material for others, and we’ve had family members threading ties for the bags, ironing, etc. to help out all the ladies donating their time, etc. sewing. Overall, it’s been pretty awesome!” said Saville. Seeing the need in Vermilion, Fran Schaumleffel set out to make approximately 300 bags and said, “It was something positive I could do amongst the chaos while still keeping the social distancing."
She and other volunteers had made and donated about 150 bags so far and drop offs will include the Hospital, long term care, the lodge, home care staff and the doctor office. She noted that they also have larger bags for EMT and first responders available. Carol and Eugene Wasylik donated enough fabric for over 200 bags, and the Community Closet donated fabric and pillowcases. According to Schaumleffel, numerous volunteers went into their personal stockpile and they are expecting to have more than they need. She has been sewing for nearly 50 years, and said that she loves seeing the finished project and the joy it brings to the recipients. “This was something I could do to be part of our community and be able to help in a small way. We are in this together,” said Schaumleffel.