Toiletry kits for patients act of kindness

By Amy McGillivray

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Chris Bishell gives up her own time to put together toiletry kits for the hospital to hand out. Photo/Joel Ford.
Chris Bishell gives up her own time to put together toiletry kits for the hospital to hand out. Photo/Joel Ford.

Tauranga woman Chris Bishell has made more than 3500 toiletry kits for people in hospital.

Mrs Bishell, the wife of a Mount Maunganui ambulance officer, began making the kits four years ago after hearing that elderly people were often worried about being rushed to hospital without their belongings.

She now has a sponsor for the project and provides Tauranga Hospital with about 50 kits each week.

"Gary just came home from work one day and I just ask him every day, how his day's been. He just said there had been an elderly lady who got upset because she couldn't collect her toiletries but he said she was just too sick and needed to be in hospital now," Mrs Bishell said.

That was enough to prompt her to make a dozen kits which she dropped off at the hospital on her husband's advice.

"When I first started doing it I didn't even know if there was demand for it," she said.

The first dozen packs were quickly handed out and hospital staff were soon asking for more.

For the first two years Mrs Bishell sewed the bags herself, sold tomatoes to raise money for it, approached businesses for donations and paid for the project out of her own pocket.

It got so big she could no longer afford to keep doing it and that is where Todd Gower Funeral Services agreed to help.

"Without their support we were going to have to fold. I couldn't financially afford to keep doing it. I can't thank them enough."

Funeral director Paula Williamson said she heard about Mrs Bishell's project and offered to sponsor it.

"It's about giving back to the community and that's one of the things we can do to help in the community," she said.

Now Mrs Bishell is able to supply enough packs for every ward of the hospital.

She still sews the children's bags and sources the items but the men's bags are imported and trainees from Avalon Sewing and Textiles make the women's bags. Members of the girls' brigade also volunteer their time to fill the bags.

Mrs Bishell said it brightened spirits and sped up people's recovery so there was a constant demand for the packs.

All donations of toiletry items were welcome, she said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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