Willow Creek Quilts in Claresholm is at the forefront of a push on Facebook to make scrub bags as a thank you to health care workers for all their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The scrub bag is a washable cotton, drawstring bag, large enough for healthcare workers to carry their soiled scrubs or uniforms home after their shift and toss the opened bag in the washing machine, washing both the bag and the scrubs at the same time,” Nancy Blezy, Co-Owner of Willow Creek Quilts, says. “This reduces the transmission of the virus and also the use of plastic bags.”

Willow Creek Quilts, Blezy says, became involved several weeks ago when they made a scrub bag that would enable her daughter to transport her dirty scrubs home from work. Blezy created a simple, double drawstring bag and then sent a pic to her daughter, who loved it along with the other nurses on shift. We posted a pic of the bag onto Facebook and encouraged people to help. 

“Our Facebook feed exploded with requests for the bags/ patterns / those wanting to help,” Blezy says. “We launched a Scrub Bag pattern on our website  HYPERLINK "https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwillowcreekquilts.ca%2Fcollections%2Fnurse-scrub-bag%2Fproducts%2Ffree-nurse-scrub-bag-pattern%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0oe0b3KqMQdmRucfruZEopoD12ZxtfvQDZCNJJxlxu8inSk9h7GiNFY9M&h=AT3JkQag15j-6u82NTy1ebO4lvEC8_W4FwQfJ29S-SToAhIsjYoHLgCT_BOJN0LAp05a1NARI4X1yJymniyu-voho8wS5ucAkFRVxrt6Un01xHPlNlqhuDOFp1I_J11gaCs" \t "_blank" https://willowcreekquilts.ca/collections/nurse-scrub-bag/products/free-nurse-scrub-bag-pattern and watched in amazement as the requests and downloads happened.” 

It quickly became apparent that a co-ordination between sewers and healthcare contacts to distribute the bags was essential, Blezy says, and the initial Facebook call for scrub bags happened on Saturday March 28th. The invitation to join a Facebook group called Scrub Bags for Alberta HealthCare Workers came on Sunday March 29th, Blezy says.

Blezy says that the Facebook Group: Scrub Bags for Alberta Healthcare Workers was started by Laura Barber, a quilter and an RN from Tofield, Alberta. The goal of the group, Blezy says, is to facilitate the provision of one bag as a gift to every healthcare worker in Alberta that would like one. It is also to connect people making scrub bags, with healthcare workers who are contacts for their facilities/communities to assist in distributing the bags to their colleagues.

This group is essential for many reasons, Blezy says, including the fact that Alberta Health Services has restricted all non- essential traffic at any of their sites. Bags can not be dropped off at any facility, Blezy says. Once the bags are made, Blezy says, arrangements are made to porch drop or pickup the bags in a safe manner with a healthcare contact.

Blezy emphasizes that the group has also connected past sewers with large fabric 'stashes' with those energetic and eager to sew but without the fabric resources to do so. Many quilters and sewers, Blezy states, have meters and meters of fabric that they are generously using and sharing. Some are sharing thread piles while others are donating pillowcases and sheets to the cause. Blezy says that many quilt stores, like Willow Creek Quilts, have donated fabric. Many other companies have even donated items towards this project including Sweet Sheets, who donated enough sheets and pillowcases to make 1700 scrub bags; and Duncan Industries in Southern Alberta, who donated about 100m of fabric.

“The project has grown exponentially from a casual post to a massive project. Laura Barber was an answer to prayer in her formation of the Scrub Bags Group,” Blezy says. “Health Care workers are touched and have expressed great appreciation for the tangible support and recognition of the work that they do. So many sewers and quilters are excited to be part of the project.”

Blezy says that people from age eight to age 85 have been making the bags and that the Alberta Scrub Bags group has over 1500 members thus far. However, the free Willow Creek Quilts Scrub Bag Pattern has been downloaded over 6,000 times from 11 countries and there are groups happening in several places around Canada, the UK, and Australia.

Several letters of thanks have been posted on the group’s Facebook page in response to this project, including one from an 85 year old lady, who posted "making these bags has sure perked me up...thanks from an 85 yr. old lady shut in her condo.”

Blezy says that a teenager named Rivera Steinberg also posted the following letter on the Project’s Facebook page:

Dear Nurses, Doctors and All Health Care Workers on the front lines,

My name is Riviera and I'm 14 years old. A few days ago, my mother told me that there is a need for scrub bags. I have lots of donated fabrics as I was sewing personalized pillowcases for boys and girls ages 13-17 who had to leave their homes due to domestic violence. I have now taken all those materials and am using them to sew scrub bags for you. Hopefully when these terrible times are over, I will return to sewing pillowcases. On behalf of my whole family, please know that we believe that you are the true heroes for putting your lives in danger to help others. These bags are a small token of our appreciation. Thank you for all that do! Sincerely Riviera Steinberg.

P.S: The lady at the quilting store told my mother that you may want to know who I am and how to contact me. My mother's email address is tsepora@shaw.ca.  

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