Knitting needles at the Trail Hospital Auxiliary are click-clacking as volunteers wait to hear if booties and blankets for the New Year’s baby gift basket should be a shade of blue or tint of pink.
Although there is no word if the stork has arrived at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH), the maternity ward does have five expectant mothers due within the first few weeks of the new year.
“We had a couple of deliveries Christmas Eve but it has been quiet since then,” said Karina Poznekoff, maternity/pediatric patient care coordinator. “We look at it like every delivery is exciting and the day of the week or year doesn’t matter,” she explained. “But we definitely have to make more phone calls to the community about the New Year’s baby because so many donations are made to the newborn and mom.”
Throughout the year, members of the Trail Hospital Auxiliary donate their time and creative energy to weave the tiny and colourful woollen sweaters, booties, hats and blankets that are sold in the KBRH gift shop or donated as gifts to various community charities.
“Everything in the New Year’s basket is made by our ladies,” explained Karen Hadley, president of the auxiliary. “We have a room full of balls of wool that have been donated,” she said. “So when someone would like to knit for us, we give the person the wool and they donate the item back to the gift shop,” Hadley continued. “Some of the clothes are so fancy and fun like little ladybug sweaters. We even have one lady who makes frilly dresses and nightgowns for us out of the goodness of her heart.”
The Trail Hospital Auxiliary was founded in 1943 with a mission to raise funds to advance care and comfort of those in need and provide funding for patient related equipment and programs.
Today, the charity’s presence is felt throughout the hospital and the impact of the volunteers’ commitment is hard to miss. This year, the 60-member organization brightened the KBRH Health Foundation’s Critical Care campaign with a $30,000 contribution made during the annual Light-Up the Hospital’s Pledge Day (Dec. 6) and a $4,000 donation slated to maintain the hospital’s gardens.
The once 100-plus member group has dwindled over time but each day a team of at least 10 volunteers don a bright red auxiliary vest to man the lobby’s information booth, deliver mail within the facility, hook up patient TVs, visit the bedridden or run the gift shop.
“We don’t get the volunteers like we used to,” said Hadley, a 34-year auxiliary member. “But we keep going because we are an important part of keeping the hospital running each day.”
After suffering cardiac complications in KBRH 34 years ago, Hadley was compelled to join the organization.
“I had open heart surgery when I was only 34 years old, which was unheard of back then,” she said. “I’ve used the system so much that I felt I really needed to give back.