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Thorold seamstress has front line health workers covered

Inspired by her daughter, who’s a nurse on the front lines, Marlene Hamilton is helping bring comfort to health workers

Production came to an immediate halt for Hardt Designs recently, when COVID 19 caused owner Marlene Hamilton to switch gears from designing and sewing ladies’ fashions to making mask-wearing more comfortable for health workers.

Normally, her small Thorold business in Thorold not only creates women’s clothing, but provides ease of shopping for senior residents by bringing it directly into retirement homes, from Fort Erie to Oakville.

Her daughter, Olivia Hamilton, who lives in Thorold and is a full-time emergency nurse on the front lines at the Niagara Health System in St. Catharines, sparked an idea to ease strain on the ears from having to wear masks for lengthy 12-hour shifts. Soon, production started in scrub caps and headbands with buttons for hooking the masks.

Wanting to give back in some way, Hamilton said, “All products are being donated to our local hospitals to support our doctors and nurses on the front lines. The headbands and the scrub caps have buttons placed on them that the mask will hook to; this alleviates the strain on red, raw ears after a 12-hour shift. The demand for this is high. We have already sent out close to 500; we have many, many orders!”

Currently, Hardt Designs is providing this product to the following hospitals: Sick Kids, McMaster, Shaver Hospital, and The Niagara Health System, including St. Catharines, Welland, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, and Grimsby hospitals.

“The list and the demand are growing every day,” she stated, adding, “This will be ongoing. I really wanted to do something for our nurses and doctors out there, especially because my daughter is on the front lines.”

According to Olivia, “The scrub cap is also recommended to keep the hair covered to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the hair.”

Hamilton said she’s grateful to her team “for all the hard work they are doing. Hardt Designs has recruited sewers and cutters from all over the Niagara region to lend a helping hand. We are adding sewers and cutters all the time to help in the production. We have a crew right now of about 10, so production should ramp up in the upcoming weeks.”

As an added bonus, Hamilton devised a way to brighten health care workers’ spirits.

“Sparking a smile, even if it’s only for a few seconds, was a vital component that we put into the design of the product; fun, cheery novelty prints to shed some light and give a smile in such unprecedented times."

Hamilton said donations of 100 per cent cotton fabric, buttons and bias trim will be gladly accepted. Buttons must be 3/4” or larger, and must be the sew-through type (with holes).

“Donations of fabric and buttons have been ongoing as the community has been so supportive.”

If you have sewing supplies to donate, please contact Marlene via email: [email protected]