Mountains of material donated to help support health care workers

‘Sewing for Front Line Workers – Killarney’ hits the ground running in the COVID-19 war


With sewing machines whirring and scissors snipping, hundreds of beautiful new caps, headbands, and garment bags are quietly being created each week in scores of homes by an army of talented craftspeople.

They are part of the newly launched ‘Sewing for Front Line Workers – Killarney’ group, and the woman who spearheaded the idea, Susan Lamont, has been overwhelmed by their patient zeal. 

“I came up with the idea a couple of weeks ago, when a friend of mine in Winnipeg sent me a message about something that was in the Winnipeg Free Press,” said Lamont. “It was a story of how a nurse and a teacher had teamed up to make surgical garb for health care workers. And I thought maybe we should make some caps here for our nurses. So I formed the group, and we started sewing.”

Lamont created a Facebook page to connect the fledgling group, and was astonished by the reaction.

“Responses started coming the same day,” she said. “On April 10 we had 50 members, and we now have 82 members. I keep getting more and more people who want to join. I felt very good. It warmed my heart that something could be done for these people who are working for us, and working on the front line.”

Lamont said that the goal was to sew washable caps, headbands, and laundry bags for health care workers during the present COVID-19 pandemic.

“We put out a plea that we needed material,” she said. “Jan Rafnkelsson was the first to donate, and she gave us mountains of material. And we have had even more mountains of material. I have had people come most days to my door, to donate into the boxes outside my front door. It has overwhelmed me. People have been so responsive and wonderful. And there’s so much to do.”

There are four stages to creating the wearable workplace products, she said.

“We have people who will wash the donated material,” she said. “Then there is the cutting group, and they cut up the fabric for caps, headbands, and laundry bags. A third group does the sewing, and another group does crocheting, and makes the ‘ear savers,’ which are four to five inches long, with buttons.”

Lamont is a sewer herself, and said she wanted to pay back somehow, in kindness, to the health care workers she has come to know well.

“I guess I have a soft spot for what they did for my late husband Jim, and for me,” she said. “But this is not a one-man show. It’s a community show. And we never work together; we all work alone, because of COVID-19. We live in a wonderful community, with wonderful people, all pulling together.”

So far some 250 caps have been sewn, and 70 of the laundry bags, which Lamont says they make so that health care workers can safely store their soiled shift clothes away from family, and others, on their way home from work.

“We donated 60 caps to Killarney Hospital on Monday and Tuesday, and we donated around 20 headbands to homecare workers,” she said. “ Some of our caps and bags have gone to Pukatawagan, and Dawson, Manitoba, and some even to B.C.”

Margie Foote, who is part of the sewing group, said that Boundary Trails Hospital has requested 30 caps and 25 headbands for their workers. 

“I will be taking them out there this week,” said Foote. “We have already sent out 12 caps, and two tote bags to them. And we have 100 caps coming from the CanAm Colony tonight. Willow Creek is also involved with this project, and the Mayfair Colony. Some of our caps and items have also gone to Brandon, Souris, Boissevain, Baldur, and Glenboro.” 

And are they seeking more members for the group?

“Yes, they are still wanted,” said Lamont. “We need sewers in a bad way. You can find out more about us on our Facebook page, at Sewing for Front Line Workers-Killarney, or you can call me at 204-523-8312.”

Donations of fabric, notions, buttons, etc., for ‘Sewing for Front Line Workers – Killarney’ can be dropped off at 400 Geates Street, Killarney.

FABRIC, NOTIONS, AND THE FINISHED PRODUCT – Susan Lamont (left) and Jan Rafnkelsson with just some of the beautiful finished caps, stacks of donated fabric, and a table packed with notions, buttons, thread, and more. Lamont’s home at 400 Geates Street is the drop-off point for donated items like these, and she has been ‘crazy busy’ keeping up with the generosity of the community.

HUNDREDS OF CAPS FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS – Susan Lamont (left) recently launched a ‘Sewing for Front Line Workers – Killarney’ group to help in the COVID-19 battle. And with help from talented volunteers like Jan Rafnkelsson (centre, wearing a cap) and Margie Foote (right, with garment bags), hundreds of caps and headbands have now been hand-sewn with love, and are being handed over to health care workers.

THE CAPPED CRUSADERS – Donning colourful and perfectly sewn caps and headbands, courtesy of the ‘Sewing for Front Line Workers – Killarney’ group, are a number of staff at the Tri-Lake Health Centre in Killarney. From left they are: Dr. Mark Bemment; Janna Tripp, a medical laboratory technologist; Shelby Ricker, a licensed practical nurse; and Airyn Llamas, a registered nurse. (We think they might be smiling beautifully under those masks…) The volunteer sewing group has so far produced hundreds of the caps, plus headbands and laundry bags, to help support health care workers during the present COVID-19 pandemic.

And on the other side of the hospital…

PREACHERS PRACTICE FACETIME FAITH – Raymond Riglin (right) reads scripture to a smartphone, which was being broadcast via FaceTime to the Bayside Personal Care Home residents inside. Residents could watch through the windows, and view and listen to the presentations on the monitor and speakers in the room (left). Pastor Riglin, of the Free Methodist Church, was joined by (counter clockwise) Rev. Michael Canning, of the Anglican Church, and pastors Brian Corr and Danny Groening of the Calvary Baptist and Killarney Mennonite churches respectively. The small crew of clergy wanted to put on a little service of sorts for the Bayside residents, and they all participated with prayer, scripture reading, and short messages. The group would like to do another similar service in the near future.