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White Heart Campaign latest effort to raise spirits of essential workers

Foundation of Guelph General Hospital has a three-pronged fundraising approach focused solely on COVID-19 efforts
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The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital CEO Suzanne Bone. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

The fundraising arm of Guelph General is making a three-pronged attack to help the hospital to fight COVID-19 and its newest White Heart Campaign requires only words of encouragement for essential workers in the hospital and the community at large.

The ongoing fundraising efforts of the Foundation of Guelph General Hospital has been put on pause in the short term, said its CEO Suzanne Bone. Instead, the foundation is focussing its efforts on ensuing the hospital has everything it needs to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Donations for the hospital is exactly what we do, we’re just pivoting a little bit,” said Bone. 

In place of the usual fundraising for much-needed equipment at the hospital, the foundation is currently concentrating on sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the staff working at Guelph General.

There are now three highlighted sections on the main web page for the foundation — the COVID-19 Critical Response Fund, COVID-19 PPE Supply Donation and the new White Heart Campaign.

The COVID-19 Critical Response Fund allows supporters to donate money that will be used  for supplies and supports needed by hospital staff during the pandemic response.

“It is hard to know at this point what government funding will cover,” said Bone by phone Thursday. “Normally most of the day-to-day costs of health care are covered provincially, but we wanted to make sure there are immediate needs the hospital has to deal with this pandemic, that we were going to be able to support it.”

The COVID-19 PPE Supply Donation page gives individuals and organizations seeking to donate equipment a one-stop shop for all of the information they need. 

The page lists some of the specific mask types and other equipment that is sorely needed at Guelph General. Bone said those needs are changing regularly.

So far the community response has been overwhelming, said Bone, with over 275 points of contact in the community offering donations.

“We have stuff coming in from everywhere,” said Bone. “It has been overwhelming in both a good way that there’s so much support in the community for the team that is working at the hospital and overwhelming trying to handle the volume of all of those calls and the emails.”

Details for a community sewing mask challenge will be shared by the foundation shortly, said Bone.

“I know there are a lot of masks being sewn out there and they are not official personal protective equipment so they would be used at Guelph General for visitors and discharged patients, but not for our staff,” she said.

The third highlighted section on the main page of the foundation is reserved for the White Heart Campaign, a non-fundraising project that allows the public an opportunity to let the essential workers inside and outside the hospital to know they are in your thoughts.

“It’s an online form where people would be able to write their comments in, submit it and we will print them off on a white heart and posting them inside the hospital so our team can see how the community is behind them,” said Bone.

People can also print off their own white heart to put in a window or on a door so they can be seen in the community or share the foundation's posts on social media.

“There are so many essential workers out there in the community making a difference out there during this pandemic, not only the health care workers at Guelph General, but those who are in many other organizations in our community — the first responders, the grocery store workers — that can hopefully be an inspiration for everyone that is out there doing essential work out there, no matter what it is,” said Bone.

No donation is required to print out or contribute encouraging words to the White Heart Campaign.

Bone said she is thankful this year’s Black Tie Bingo fundraiser was held when it was, on March 7.

“If it had been just a few days later I think we would have had to cancel it,” said Bone. “We had it just in time and it was great because we netted $300,000 which is our most successful yet.”

“It feels like it was a lifetime ago and it was less than a month ago,” she added.