I’ll come right out and say it: I’m a fan of Fran. Fran Benton that is; because she’s making lemonade out of lemons — well, she’s actually making scarves out of lemons. No wait, that isn’t it either. The scarves are made of various materials but certainly not lemons. The point is she’s making the best out of a crummy situation and what’s more, members of Cowichan’s health care community will benefit.
What a long-winded way to say Fran Benton is giving handmade scarves to Cowichan District Hospital staff. Cool right? Here’s why.
“I make scarves every year and sell them at Christmas Chaos,” she explained. “It’s the only venue I have. I usually make a few hundred scarves. They are knit, crocheted, sewn, or embroidered. I signed up for Christmas Chaos this year but then found out that the vendors do not need to be vaccinated. That’s four days of sitting cheek to jowl with folks that could be carrying COVID. I am not young and I could not take the chance of getting sick. I cancelled my booking for Christmas Chaos.”
What that meant was roughly 500 great scarves wouldn’t be sold.
“I don’t like standing around in the cold so the Duncan market was out,” Benton noted. “I had a lovely resourceful mum and I thought ‘What would mum have done?’”
It just so happens that Benton’s mom was Oak Bay’s very first public health nurse.
“She was a very keen nurse and so serious about getting vaccinations,” explained Benton. “I knew then exactly what I would do with the scarves! I would give them to our wonderful health care workers!”
It took a few phone calls but it was suggested she bring them up to the Cowichan District Hospital for the workers to each pick out their own scarf.
“If they did not want the scarf for themselves it would make a super X-mas gift for someone they love!” Benton said.
So, on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. Benton headed to the hospital for perhaps, and somebody night need to fact check me on this, the biggest handmade scarf giveaway the Cowichan region has ever seen!
She’s called the event “Wrapped with Gratitude”.
Benton said after the day had come and gone that it was “spectacular”.
“People were so grateful for the scarves and the most common comment was that this was the sort of gift that made them feel wonderful every time they looked at it,” she beamed. “When I explained to one nurse that we really all want to say thank you in any way we could, she started to cry.”
Benton said that many hugs were shared (in a COVID friendly manner of course).
“My guess is that we gave away about 300 scarves. Some staff took an extra for a colleague who was not in that day. It was a super cool event and now I have quite a few fewer scarves thanks to some truly wonderful people who are there for us every day.”
While epic indeed, Benton’s generosity isn’t enough to cover a community of health care workers this size, so she’d like to challenge others to think about what they could do to bring a little light to our hard working, long suffering, health care workers.
There are a lot of people out there that quietly go about the jobs with little to no thanks, putting themselves into the public sphere every day despite the pandemic still a reality. The health care workers, the supermarket cashiers, the servers, the teachers, and so many others. I wonder what little things we could do to say thank you. For Fran Benton it was scarves. What is it for the rest of us? We should really find out.