A local woman and her mom could have never imagined that the Facebook page they would create to make cloth bags for frontline workers would grow to include 300 volunteers and more than 7,800 bags.
Nicole Proseilo started the social media group Bags for the Front-lines (Calgary and Area) with her mom Janet in April after seeing a local nurse Janette Rees reach out to a Facebook site asking if anyone made the item.
“It’s crazy!” she said. “I didn’t think it would ever get this big – I mean, 300-plus volunteers. It’s so wonderful to see people who want to give back and help out like this.”
The bags are a simple rectangle of fabric with a drawstring designed for workers to put their scrubs in when they are done a shift and bring them home safely to wash, so their family members aren’t exposed.
Every bag includes a thank you note made by local residents and a headband, ear saver or face mask.
“I’ve had health care professionals make a big difference in my life so I wanted to give back to them and help out in any small way that I could,” said Proseilo.
“You have no idea how much it impacts the doctors and nurses. I have been interacting with them a bit and they all want to give money or re-pay us in some way. I tell them that this is from the heart and we just want them and their staff to stay safe.”
One of the volunteers, Cathy Perrotta, is Proseilo’s former teacher at George McDougall High School.
“I personally wanted to do something positive and supportive for people whose job puts them at risk while they try to keep others safe and healthy,” said Perrotta.
“It was actually very therapeutic and gave structure to my day. I had a quota I sewed each day. It became a new routine for me.”
Jayzellynn Rivera also became involved with sewing masks and bags for frontline workers after seeing a demand for both on local social media.
She decided to take her efforts even further by donating $1 for every mask she makes to the Airdrie Food Bank.
“I think it’s important to remember that charities like the food bank rely on the community to keep going. I believe that giving back to your community helps it flourish,” she said, adding she has donated more than $100 to the food bank so far.
“Especially now, during COVID-19, there is a greater need for the food bank. I also want to continue teaching my daughter the importance of helping and giving.”
The bags have been used by doctors, nurses, caregivers at seniors’ homes, dental professionals, physiotherapists, ultrasound technicians and more.
A number of local residents and companies have also stepped up to donate fabric for the cause.
To read more on how Airdrie residents are helping give to those in need during this difficult time, check out our Summer 2020 online edition, launching June 15.