When the IWK Health Centre in Halifax notified Facebook users back in 2016 that their supply of finger puppets was running low, they never expected the astounding overflow of puppets that would come. As of today, there are so many puppets on hand at the hospital that they have posted online messages for followers to suspend donations until they are needed again.
According to Kylene Mellor, manager of IWK’s volunteer resources, in this interview by The Star Halifax, there are currently around 75,000 finger puppets, 4,000 baby hats, 3,000 comfort dolls and other donated items at the hospital. Mellor says that many of the donors have some sort of connection with the hospital and that donations come in from all around the world. Mellor says that the hospital gives out an average of 1,000 finger puppets a month.
The puppets are displayed in baskets at the hospital’s entrances, the clinics and labs and the emergency room. The patients and their families can choose their own puppets from the baskets, an act which Mellor says gives power to the patients, who are powerless sometimes in their health choices. Mellor also knows that having calm children extends comfort and lessens stress for the families of the children.
Amy Morais, mother of a 15-year-old patient at the hospital, says that her daughter has received a puppet with every visit and has accumulated quite a collection. Morais says that she and her daughter knit puppets, hats and dolls for the IWK, and Morais has a Facebook page called “Finger Puppets for IWK”, which has 3.000 followers. Morais checks with the hospital to see about the need for donations, and in March of 2018 told her followers to suspend donations for now. She told them to keep making their donations, but to hold on to them until they were needed.