Protecting ears and boosting spirits: ‘The Joy Project’ makes significant strides in helping healthcare workers

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Two weeks ago, New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) NICU Nurse Grace Caldwell had a small idea that is making a big difference for the comfort and morale of local healthcare workers.

After seeing a post about a headband made to protect ears from irritating masks, Caldwell put out a call for help on Facebook.

Two weeks ago, a small group of volunteers donated about 65 headbands to the hospital.

Two weeks later, ‘The Joy Project’ has taken off, with a team of over 65 volunteers who have donated 657 headbands to NHRMC to date.

“I don’t know that I fully anticipated how much the community would really love to stand behind something like this and not only just say ‘hey, that’s cool what you’re doing’ but step in and do the leg work themselves. We’ve had people give up their time, give up their resources,” Caldwell said. “That’s allowed us to give them away and not charge anybody for them which I think is a cool thing to be able to do and we couldn’t do that if the community wasn’t so supportive of this project.”

The group has its system down pat, delegating work to teams and working efficiently to make as many headbands as possible.

They have a goal of making 2,000 bands for the NHRMC Network, which includes clinics and Pender Memorial Hospital.

After they meet that goal they hope to turn to pharmacy workers and urgent care staff to provide relief.

“It’s very humbling to think about the ripple effect that things can have and I don’t know everyone who works at the hospital, they don’t all know me but it’s been cool to see them respond and wear it and know that it’s solving a problem for them,” she said.

The team could still use volunteers who know how to sew using a sewing machine. If you would like to help you can reach Caldwell by messaging her on ‘The Joy Project’ Facebook group.

“We could use a couple more people that can sew and we have a great structure for the headband and a lot of people sewing on buttons but if you can machine sew that would be really helpful to make sure we have the right fit and we’re trying to have different sizes and styles to give everybody something bright and happy and something that fits,” she said.

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