Chantelle Stefan and Kelly McClure sit in a pile-o-toques created by the volunteers at Handmade Hugs.

Chantelle Stefan and Kelly McClure sit in a pile-o-toques created by the volunteers at Handmade Hugs.

Big fundraiser of the year helps to spread the love

Handmade Hugs Society Cowichan Valley is gearing up for their annual fundraiser at the Christmas Chaos craft fair

The Handmade Hugs Society Cowichan Valley is gearing up for their annual fundraiser at the Christmas Chaos craft fair.

The society and its volunteers make receiving blankets, neo-natal isolet covers, huggable bears and bunnies, slippers, positioning snakes, ice-pack/hot-pack covers, handmade quilts, blankets and afghans and a variety of other products that make long hospital stays or other emergency situations easier to cope with.

These items are created using donated yarn and fabrics that others have collected for their own projects but find they no longer need.

Christmas Chaos is a four day event that takes place each year at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan, and it is Handmade Hugs biggest source of funding. President, Julie McClure, says the funds are used for items that are not donated, such as ribbons, buttons, thread, and others.

“It’s an amazing venue,” said McClure. “And we make enough to cover our expenses for one year.”

In order to prepare, the society will be hosting what is called a Hugathon (essentially a work bee) on Sept. 22, and Oct. 13, at Glenora Hall. Volunteers will be busy sewing, knitting, and preparing all of the items needed for Christmas Chaos.

Volunteers and donations are welcome. Volunteers are needed to sew, stuff huggable toys, pre-wash and cut fabrics, deliveries, and contacting local businesses, churches, and community groups for donations of either cash, product items, or time.

McClure says she started a Handmade Hugs in Cowichan because she spent time as a patient, as well as a visitor to hospitals, and she understands that a patient needs something to help the hospital setting feel less institutionalized.

“It always felt institutional to me,” said McClure. “There was nothing that made it easier.”

So when her mother-in-law was in a care facility, McClure started bringing in afghans and other personal items.

“I had people stopping by just to look.”

From there she began to look into how she could provide items to those in hospital at little or no cost, and asked hospital staff what items were needed the most.

“What they wanted more than anything was positioning snakes [for infants],” explained McClure.

There are now many items the society provides for infants, children, adults, and the elderly, and they work with many not-for-profits and businesses in the Cowichan area.

“I’m so proud of what we’re doing and how much we’ve grown,” said McClure.

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