For the past 30 years, St. Dunstan of Canterbury’s Pastoral Care Group has been donating hand-made gifts to patients in Centenary Hospital in Scarborough and, more recently, Scarborough General and Birchmount hospital, all of which are part of the Scarborough Health Network (SHN). These items have included emergency teddy bears for children, lap and bed blankets, and chemotherapy shawls. For the neonatal bereavement program, special items have included pouches, blankets, hats and booties. Everything is lovingly made in an attempt to bring comfort and relief to families going through stressful times.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a request was received from the hospital network to change focus from patients to front-line workers at all three hospitals and make hats, scrub bags and ear savers. The need was enormous and the Pastoral Care Group realized that assistance was needed. Another group at St. Dunstan’s, the Crafties, who normally knit and sew for bazaars, rose to the challenge. Together, the two groups became the SHN Support Group. Zoom meetings were arranged each Monday for planning, updates and developing new strategies. Some group members preferred to complete the item while others worked as a virtual team with procurers of materials, fabric cutters, machinists, button sewers, elastic slotters and knitters. The finished items were delivered to Centenary Hospital every two weeks. In September, requests also came from long-term care homes.
The donations to three hospitals and four care homes have amounted to 2,728 hats, 1,079 scrub bags, 4,022 ear savers and 185 head bands. 14,294 buttons have been sewn onto the items. Twenty-five people were involved in the project, and appeals were made to the community for donations of materials. Outreach helped when donations could not be found.
Each member of the team has received a certificate from Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park, in recognition of the support given in a time of need.
At a time when so many have been cut off from families and friends and left feeling alone and without control, a chance was given to join with others and actually do something positive that would help. This gave all those participating a sense of purpose. It was truly a Godsend. The last delivery has been made and the request from SHN completed. It is time to move on to a new challenge: helping the homeless.