Making Bandages from Hotel Sheets


Cary, NC — Old hotel sheets from The Umstead are being recycled into cloth bandages to be sent overseas to help address medical needs in other countries.

A New Use for Old Sheets

Eighth graders from Davis Drive Middle School are working together with senior residents from Searstone, a continuing care retirement community in Cary, to help send clean, cloth bandages and arm slings to countries in need. I met with Shona Wynn, the Activities Director at Brittany Place – a community within Searstone – to learn more about the project.

“The residents told me that people are always doing things for them, so they wanted to give back,” Shona told me. “They’re used to doing that in their lives. They’ve all had important jobs, and they still like to give back to the community during their retirement.”

The eighth graders at Davis Drive reached out to Shona to let her know about the project they’d started to help an organization called Global Health Ministries. “Over half of our residents have dementia, so I was a little concerned when the students asked us to help them make bandages,” Shona told me. “But it’s amazing, because so many of the residents who can’t do certain things for themselves do this project so easily. I think it’s because they know they are helping others.”

900 Bandages

The students come to Brittany Place once a month to make bandages alongside seniors. The residents like doing it so much, though, that they continue to work on the bandages all month long. So far, the residents at Searstone have rolled at least 900 bandages.

The Umstead, a five-star hotel and spa in Cary, donates bed sheets they can no longer use to the cause. The sheets come to Searstone in long, 3.5″ wide strips.


Eighth graders from Davis Drive designed this tool to roll up the strips.

They’re fed through a wire and then rolled up to make bandages. The students from Davis Drive designed the contraption that rolls the bandages and even added additional features – like rubber bands to hold the strips in place and friction on the platform’s base – when they saw that some of the residents had trouble rolling up the bandages on a slippery table top.

The rolled bandages are sent with other medical supplies overseas to hospitals in other countries. The bandages are used as slings and as external coverings to help the wounded. In some places, the quality of these bandages is far better than what medical workers can access locally. “These students go to school right across the street from our community, and they’re making friends with the residents,” Shona told me. “It’s healing to see.”


Oma Howell and Leonard Stilo (right) Rose Marie (left) roll bandages.

I talked to one resident named Rose Marie who taught Shona the handy trick of throwing the cloth strip over you shoulder as you roll it up. “The nice thing is that the kids are just as helpful as they can be,” Rose Marie told me. “We all help each other. It’s a nice thing.”


Story by Jessica Patrick. Lead photo by David and Grid Engine. Story photos by Searstone.


CaryCitizen is sponsored in-part by Elegant Stitches in Waverly Place.

1 reply
  1. Andree Wolf
    Andree Wolf says:

    We are residents at Searstone and I walk over to Brittany Place once a week to keep some of the residents company. I have seen this in action and think it is wonderful for all involved. Residents, students and anyone who has a chance to observe the positive effect on all who participate. Great cause, great pastime, great learning experience!

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