OAKLAND (KCBS) -- A unique partnership born on Facebook and nurtured by the kindness of strangers is stocking a clothes closet at an East Bay trauma center. But the three women leading a network of anonymous donors can use more help making sure no patient goes home in a hospital gown.
At Highland Hospital, 80,000 patients a year visit the emergency room; that works out to a couple hundred a day.
Rhonda Kendall is a charge nurse in the ER, where caring for patients sometimes means clothing them. She unlocks a closet in a hospital hallway to show a half-dozen coats, a bin of shoes, and several shelves with neatly folded shirts and pants.
"So this is all of the clothing donations. We try to keep it all organized, different sizes, tops, pants, and there are some shoes but we could always use more because this goes fast."
When patients come in with traumatic injuries, their clothes are often cut off, soaked with blood. Patient liaison Jade Graffort has also had to throw away the clothes of some homeless people.
"With some of the soiling, like scabies or bedbugs, we can't, it wouldn't be right for us to give it back to them."
Highland staff dig through their own closets and donate to this one in the ER. But it's always running low on shoes and coats, plus-size and men's clothes.
"I'm part of a buy-sell-trade group on Facebook for local families, and Jade made a small comment that people looking to donate clothing could give it to her. That people at the hospital in the ER were in desperate need of clothing," says Leah Riggins, a mother of two whose Moraga garage has become a depot for Jade.
"I thought, 'Well, I probably have something,' and then I thought, 'Why should she drive all the way to Moraga for one bag of clothes?' So then I put the word out on my Facebook groups: I'm collecting clothing, Jade's going to come pick it up in Moraga, come drop it off at my house. That's just kind of how it went."
With two carloads behind them, they hope to keep it going. The need is as constant as the opening and closing of the emergency room doors.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Highland ER clothing closet may contact Jade Graffort at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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