WILMINGTON ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — As healthcare professionals put in grueling hours to save lives, many are realizing the COVID-19 outbreak is harming an unexpected victim — their ears.
“People have had very similar stories like, ‘our ears are raw,’ or, ‘we were just talking to our department, our ears are about to fall off,’” Amanda Brady told WSAV.com NOW.
The currently furloughed occupational therapist still has a number of friends still working in the medical field.
They need to wear face masks to protect themselves and others each day.
However, Brady says they’ve complained that the straps holding the masks in place haven’t been easy on the ears.
That’s how she became inspired to help out.
“One of my best friends sent me a picture of a pretty cool plastic contraption that somebody made to hold the ear bands, and she said, ‘I figured you could make something, since you crochet,’” Brady said.
With her newfound free time, the Wilmington Island resident got to work on creating crocheted bands designed to offer relief to her hardworking peers.
She began handing the freebies out to her friends, then posted to a local Facebook group in case anyone else was interested.
Brady says she expected perhaps 10 or so people would want her bands, but the interest was far greater than she anticipated, with workers in oncology, EMS as well as labor and delivery contacting her to express interest.
“Everybody’s been just so receptive, reaching out, trying to get these for their friends that work in healthcare, or their whole department, so it’s been really cool,” Brady said.
At first, she wasn’t sure how to distribute them, given the statewide orders to avoid gathering in groups.
So last week, Brady decided to host a drive-through meetup, allowing people to remain in their cars as they rode by and collected their free bands.
She hosted her second handout event on April 10 in a Kroger gas station parking lot, making sure to protect herself and everyone else by gloving up and wearing a face mask.
“I’ve been bringing everything that I can make, and they are going pretty fast, so I’m gonna work until I can’t work anymore,” she said.
Brady has enlisted the help of her mother, who she calls a “crochet machine,” to create the bands even faster.
“She lives in north Georgia, she’s already sent a big bunch of them that she’s finished,” Brady said.
While her helpful bands haven’t yet found a permanent name, they’ve gone through a few phases so far.
“The first groups that got the bands were at SouthCoast Medical, and a group there lovingly named them ‘Manders’ Button Bands,’ because ‘Manders’ has been a nickname of mine,” Brady explained.
“Then it turned into ‘Brady’s Button Bands,’ and now it’s been just shortened to ‘Manda Bands’,” she said.
Brady plans to continue offering her creations for free for the time being, and says several people have offered donations, which she is open to accepting.
“I did not think that anything crocheted would ever blow up, but it’s been really fun, and it’s a great way for me to use my time, my talents, you know, just a small contribution to all the people that are still working,” Brady said.
“They’re exhausted, so just to make their day a little bit easier and to give some relief for their ears, it’s awesome,” she said.
To reach Amanda Brady about obtaining her bands, she can be reached via social media through her Facebook group.