Calgary

Local heroes: Group sews hundreds of scrub bags to help keep doctors and nurses safe amid pandemic

What do you get when you mix social media, four generous strangers and an unprecedented time of need amid the COVID-19 pandemic? In southern Alberta, you get a group of women making hundreds of hand sewn cloth bags for doctors' and nurses' scrubs.

Local heroes is a series featuring southern Albertans who are making a difference during the pandemic

Nicole Proseilo is one of the southern Albertans who have teamed up to sew garment bags for doctors and nurses so they can transport their contaminated scrubs home for the wash without exposing family members. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Who do you feel has been a LOCAL HERO during the COVID-19 pandemic in Calgary and southern Alberta, be it on the front lines or in the community helping others? We want to know for our new series paying tribute to these local heroes. Tell us which person or team you'd nominate and why via email to CBC Calgary reporter Meghan Grant at meghan.grant@cbc.ca.


What do you get when you mix social media, four generous strangers and an unprecedented time of need? 

In southern Alberta, you get a group of women making hundreds of hand-sewn cloth bags for medical scrubs.

This is because many doctors and nurses working on the front-line amid the COVID-19 pandemic are wearing scrubs that they bring from home and transport back again for washing. Now they can throw in their scrubs in the cloth bags and toss them straight into the laundry at home so family members aren't exposed.

"They're the ones on the front lines so I feel honoured to be able to help them stay safe," says Nicole Proseilo, who lives in Airdrie and is one of four women sewing bags for hospital staff.

Some of the first recipients of Bags for Frontlines at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary hold them up with smiles. The hospital requested 200 scrub bags for doctors and nurses. (Bags for the Front-lines/Facebook)

Proseilo along with Janette Rees, Jolanda Galeano and Linda King came together over Facebook and organized the effort, creating the Facebook page Bags for the Front-lines (Calgary and Area) to solicit help.

It's one of thousands of projects, groups, deeds and gestures across the province aimed at making Albertans' lives a little lighter in trying times. 

Proseilo says the team is ready to make bags for anyone who needs one.

The front-line medical staff don't just receive a handmade bag — the women also attach notes to the pouches.

They read: "Thank you for your service," "Stay safe" and "We really appreciate you."

Mother and daughter Janet and Nicole Proseilo are making scrub bags for frontline doctors and nurses. Nicole says her mother taught her to sew when she was 10. (Proseilo family )

It started when Rees, a nurse, identified a need for the bags for herself and colleagues.

Proseilo is a recent grad and, like so many others, was laid off from her job because of the pandemic.

Stuck at home, she was anxious, bored and feeling the weight of a crashing economy. 

Then she saw Rees on Facebook calling on sewers to help with making bags.

"I said, 'Sure, I can make some bags!'" 

Orders flood in

Once word got out, the orders flooded in.

The Alberta Children's Hospital needed 200.

Sixty for Canmore.

Deliveries have also been made to Foothills Hospitals and other local clinics.

"Nurses and doctors started asking for more and more and more," Proseilo says.

And the group is open to taking more requests.

Hospital staff show off the fabric bags made for them by Bags for the Front-lines (Calgary and Area). The bags are designed so that doctors and nurses can throw their contaminated scrubs into the wash without their families coming in contact with them. (Bags for the Frontlines/Facebook)

More volunteers needed

With the high demand, the women are looking for more volunteers to set or write notes.

They also need more fabric donations.

Proseilo has reached out to local hotels asking for pillow cases, which take a lot less time to turn into bags. 

Anyone interested in helping out can email bagsfornursesanddoctors@gmail.com.

Those who want to help must be:

  • Free of possible COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Following government legislation regarding physical distancing.

As well, the fabric has to be washed after it's handled.


  • Tell us who you think is a local hero and why by emailing reporter Meghan Grant at meghan.grant@cbc.ca.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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