It’s no secret — when you look good, you feel good.
Regardless of what we’re going through, moving through life with a little style can make a world of difference in our confidence and overall mood. Realizing this simple but powerful truth, a group of Dalhousie Medical School students recently organized a clothing drive in support of Clothes City at the QEII Health Sciences Centre during a challenging period for the service.
Led by Romy Segall and Kaylee Jabbour, founding members of the new Dalhousie University chapter of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada (FMWC), the group capitalized on the spring-cleaning season by soliciting clothing donations from their fellow students.
“The goal of FMWC is to connect female physicians and advocate for women’s health and other important health issues locally, while collaborating with the national organization,” says Romy, a third-year medical student. “We decided to go ahead with the clothing drive for Clothes City as one of our first initiatives.”
Clothes City assists patients who arrive at the QEII with limited access to clothing or who arrive unexpectedly. Located at the QEII’s Abbie J. Lane building, Clothes City’s headquarters is familiar to medical students completing their clinical placements at the facility, so the prospect of helping came naturally.
“People were really excited to give back. It’s important to help our patients from a social perspective in addition to the medical care we are part of providing,” says Romy. “We definitely see the difference it makes for patients — it’s nice to be a part of that.”
The drive collected donations from June until the end of August and was certainly appreciated by Clothes City, which, like many charitable efforts, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As soon as COVID started, there were a lot more restrictions on the hospital,” says Jennifer Barnes, Nova Scotia Health occupational therapist and Clothes City volunteer coordinator. “We were limited for a while with donations because we weren’t sure, in terms of restrictions, if we could take clothing.”
With spring bringing about more pandemic freedoms, FMWC took advantage of the moment to execute its clothing drive, which paid off.
“It’s had a huge impact on us, and it was great the students were able to think of our patients here in the hospital — it really made a big difference for all of them,” says Jennifer. “It’s nice to see people in the community pulling together and helping out Clothes City.”
Jennifer is grateful to the students for their action, noting the smiles she sees every day are the greatest accessories to the donated apparel.
“Sometimes, we’ll take our patients to pick out some things, and you can see it on their face — it helps with their confidence to have nice, clean clothing. It has a big impact on many patients,” she says.
While the clothing drive was a benefit for QEII patients, for volunteers of the initiative, it provided joy — offering an opportunity to reconnect with the community after years of isolation.
“It was fun to work with our peers again to support an important initiative,” says Romy. “The best part is seeing the results. Often, you don’t get to see the results immediately but Clothes City is something that we see benefiting our patients every day, and we know is meaningful.”
“We’re very grateful to the QEII for opening their doors and letting us take part,” adds Romy. “We hope to continue this in future years — maybe have it as an annual event — and get involved with other initiatives they have.”
Although the student-led drive is over for this year, Clothes City always welcomes all donations of gently used, odour-free, clean clothing from the greater community — any individual or group can donate. Jennifer says the service usually needs casual sneakers and casual clothing (particularly men’s), which can be dropped off at the small donation box at the front door of the QEII’s Abbie J. Lane building.
“It’s a very worthwhile cause,” says Jennifer. “There’s a lot of people that could benefit from the clothing, especially during COVID times, and it’s rewarding to help people in the community.”
Meanwhile, with even more acts of community giving in the works, Romy and FMWC are grateful to all who participated in the organization’s latest benevolent endeavour.
“I am thankful to all the people who donated and took the time to bring their stuff during summer vacation — thank you so much for being so generous; all the time and effort you’ve put in is much appreciated,” says Romy. “We’re very lucky to have such a wonderful community who loves to help and support each other.”
To learn more about Clothes City or organize a larger donation, contact Jennifer Barnes at Jennifer.Barnes@nshealth.ca