When life hands you Quarantine…you make surgical caps?

In the middle of March, my mother (also a Dental Hygienist) and I were considered “nonessential” and our services as Dental Hygienists were deemed “elective.”

There were many blessings of quarantine like spending more time with my husband and children, finally having time to organize and purge our home, and beginning a virtual Bible study with some of my girlfriends.

In order to stay up-to-date with all the advancements, recommendations, and requirements for dentistry in the age of COVID, my mother and I found ourselves attending plenty of virtual continuing education (CE) courses. We wanted to be informed upon returning to work and these CE courses made that possible for us.

Somewhere along the way it became apparent that it was highly likely that we would need to wear surgical caps in order to cover our hair during the workday. We decided to look into a surgical cap sewing pattern that we could figure out.

With my dad as our seamster, my mom as our quality assurance supervisor, and myself as our design/measure/cut assistant, we got to work on a surgical cap pattern!

Our master seamster – my dad! That sewing machine? Yeah, it’s older than me!

Initially we only planned to make enough surgical caps for ourselves. However, we realized that there may be a great need amongst our colleagues for surgical caps. So we got to work on making more (and more) caps!

For the months of March, April, and May we would meet on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon to crank out a few caps. Slowly but surely we were able to streamline our process and eventually we became very efficient.

Along the way we added my oldest son, Vincent, as my dad’s sewing assistant!

We knew we didn’t want to make a profit from these surgical caps because we really just wanted them to be available to clinicians if/when they needed them. We started to toss around the idea of selling them for a donation to a nonprofit or foundation.

We decided to sell them as a fundraiser for Strength For Life Abilene – a nonprofit here in Abilene that provides free strength training programs and facilities to cancer patients and survivors for life. Strength For Life highlights the importance of a continued exercise program to promote wellness and healing longevity. Why Strength for Life?

First, our family has been personally impacted by cancer diagnoses. Second, Strength For Life was in the midst of planning their first big fundraising trail run event for May and it had to get cancelled because of the pandemic – nonprofits rely on fundraising efforts to continue their work, this posed as a potentially big loss for the organization. Lastly, my mom also serves on the board of Strength for Life and works diligently to spread the word about this awesome organization.

Initially we weren’t too sure how many clinicians would be interested in our caps but we kept spreading the word, gathering more fabric, and sewing more caps.

Each weekend we would sew, take pictures, and post that weekend’s batch on Facebook! In total we were able to make around 50 caps!

We continued our fundraising efforts and tried our best to sell all of the surgical caps we made.

I am so thankful that we had such a great response to our caps and our fundraising efforts – many of my colleagues and classmates purchased our caps. I am also thankful for all of the individuals who shared our posts each week to help spread the word. Our surgical caps were even shipped to Dental Hygienists in New York and Virginia!

On July 16, 2020 my mom and I were able to hand over our donation to Strength For Life. Not only did we meet the fundraising goal we had set for ourselves, but we even exceeded it! We ended up raising $750 for Strength For Life and it was so rewarding to hand that check to this incredible nonprofit organization – we know this donation will be a great blessing to many people!

During our time in quarantine, we found ourselves with more time on our hands. Our hands once skillfully held mouth-mirrors, probes, scalers but we suddenly found ourselves handling fabric, scissors, and thread.

Cap by cap we worked diligently to collect donations while also providing a surgical cap to a clinician that would need a head-covering upon returning to work. Cap by cap we worked diligently to collect donations for a local nonprofit that is doing amazing work within the cancer community.

Proverbs 16: 27 says, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Maybe you still have quite a bit of idle time on your hands, I encourage you to look into options within your community to get involved with organizations and areas of need. They are out there, you just have to look and get creative!

–TB2G

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