Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Canadian children's hospital receives handmade finger puppets from around the world

For the kids who have to spend time at IWK Health Centre, a women's and children's hospital in Halifax, sometimes the only thing that can bring a smile to their face is a simple finger puppet, handmade by a volunteer they'll never meet.

Kylene Mellow, the hospital's manager of volunteer resources, told The Star Halifax that for two decades, IWK Health Centre has accepted handmade finger puppets to pass out to patients, their families, and visitors. Volunteers from around the world make the different kinds of puppets — some knitted, others crocheted or sewed together — and after the hospital announced in September 2016 they were running low, thousands upon thousands were sent in.

Mellow said that many of the volunteers who make the finger puppets are current or former patients or knew someone who once was hospitalized, and right now, there are about 75,000 finger puppets in storage, so they don't have room for any additional creations. They are kept in baskets around the hospital, a way to distract kids who are sick and going through medical procedures. For those who don't have a choice and have to be there, being able to pick out a finger puppet gives them a feeling of "empowerment," Mellow said. She estimates that about 1,000 finger puppets are distributed every month.