When mask-wearing was made mandatory to curb the spread of COVID-19, many realised that finding the right masks, especially for children, could be a challenge. Being problem solvers at heart, some of our staff across the cluster initiated their own projects to sew masks and do good at the same time.
Making mask-wearing comfortable and fun for kids
Jessie Choo, Senior Executive, Corporate Affairs (Patient Relations), Changi General Hospital (CGH) was a practicing nurse for 41 years, before taking on her current role in 2008. As a patient relations officer, she provides an empathic ear to patients, their families and members of the public, and helps to address and resolve the issues they face.
So when Jessie heard from her colleagues how their children did not like donning masks, she decided to sew masks in her spare time to make the experience more fun for kids. "I thought if we made mask-wearing comfortable and fun, it might appeal to children. So I started sewing masks with children’s designs that had cartoons and were colourful. I also used comfortable material and the kids loved them!" said Jessie. When pictures of the masks were posted on Facebook, Jessie started to receive enquiries from friends and colleagues.
With demand for her masks increasing, Jessie came up with an idea to offer the masks on a ‘pay-as-you-wish’ basis to raise funds for CGH’s HomeCare Assist (HCA). "Many of our patients require financial assistance for home care and medical items, such as diapers, respiratory equipment and wheelchairs, when they are discharged" shared Jessie, adding that CGH staff regularly raise funds to support HCA and she would often help to raise funds and liaise with people who wish to sponsor or donate to HCA. "During the current pandemic, we were not able to hold events or organise sales to raise funds, so I felt that sewing masks during this time was a good way to raise funds."
Jessie is thankful too for the support of her family in this project. While she stitched the masks after work or on weekends, her family helped to wash and iron them. Her sister-in-law also provided her with some sewing material.
Since April, Jessie stitched more than 300 masks. Some were given away free-of-charge and the proceeds from selling the rest were donated to HCA. Jessie’s efforts were met with great encouragement from colleagues and friends who placed repeat orders. When asked if she will continue to sew masks, Jessie replied "if people request for masks, I will be happy to sew."
She gave some of the masks she made as gifts to her colleagues for Nurses’ Day in August and received glowing reviews for its comfort. "This inspired me to expand my efforts" said Siam King who thought it would be a great way to rally nurses to sew masks in order to raise funds for needy patients at SHP. She put out a call for volunteers, mindful too that nurses have busy schedules. "I was so heartened to see two dozen nurse supervisors show up for the first session in August!" said Siam King, adding that the nurses had sourced for the material at their own cost and brought their sewing machines from home.
Siam King said, "During that first session, we managed to complete 90 masks. Thereafter, a small group of us came together during our lunch hour, after work and on weekends to carry on sewing more." By the end of the project, the team had made over 430 masks. The masks were sold for $10 each, with some buyers deciding to pay more. Proceeds from the fundraising initiative 'MBA: Masks By Nurse Angel' were then channelled into SHP’s Gift of Family Fund in support of needy patients.
While the finished products gave the nurses a great sense of satisfaction, Siam King shared that sewing masks was a great way for nurses to distress. "I’m very grateful for the immense support of my colleagues in this project. It’s a true testament to the camaraderie we share" added Siam King.
During these challenging times, every single contribution makes a big difference in the lives of our needy patients. Like Jessie, and the nurses at SHP, you too can be part of our tapestry of support. Click the links below to make a gift today!
HomeCare Assist | Gift of Family Fund