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Hospital volunteers churning out masks

Flagstaff Team

Undercover operatives… North Shore Hospital Auxiliary volunteers Judy Cornes (left) and Linda Smalley (centre), both from Glenfield, and Sandra Frost, of Takapuna, make masks to sell and donate.

North Shore Hospital Auxiliary volunteers are turning their sewing skills to making masks. The colourful creations – an addition to a range of items the group makes for the comfort of patients – are proving welcome.

Mask-wearing “makes people feel more comfortable”, says auxiliary president Linda Smalley. So far, the group has sewn 400 masks to be given to inpatients of the Waitemata DHB’s Specialist Mental Health & Addiction Services. It is also making double-sided cotton masks in three sizes for public sale.

“Masks are our first big fundraiser,” Smalley says. They are being sold for $5 each, well below the going rate, as a “service to the community”. This was made possible by volunteer time and using donated fabrics, with only elastic to pay for.

Masks are typically being sold for $10 to $15 elsewhere, with versions marketed by New Zealand designers priced as high as $69 each.

The group started making its masks around a month ago and is selling them via social media. It runs out of a hospital house on Shakespeare Rd, and has had support from the Well Foundation to improve the interior into a cosy space to work from.

Around 15 sewers are rostered to help, with five other regular volunteers coordinating library services, providing reading materials to clinics and wards.

The most popular items the volunteers make are capes and knee rugs, often for longer-term patients. Other items include padded boots, baby wraps, and knitted and sewn baby garments and fleece toys.

Smalley, who has been involved with the auxiliary for seven years, the last three as president, says she thinks members of the public are getting used to the idea of donning masks for everyday use. Hospital staff and visitors are required to wear them.

“I expect to be making them for a while,” she says.


This article originally appeared in the 27 November 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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