My Ministry: Sheets for clinics

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How do you save tonnes of bed sheets from being sent to landfill each week? Send them to medical missions throughout the South Pacific and orphanages in Africa, of course!

When Port Macquarie (NSW) woman Susan Shelton heard about sheets deemed “unusable” by hotels, motels, hospitals, etc, being sent to waste and ending up as landfill, she started looking into it. She soon realised that most of the sheets had very little wrong with them or needed minor fixes to add years more use to them.

Port Macquarie Church, where Susan and husband Russell are members, currently sponsors a number of medical missions in the South Pacific region. Using that as a lead, Susan asked if the sheets would be a welcome help to these medical missions. The response was incredible! Fifty-eight medical missions in the Solomons, Vanuatu, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and other places said they would be very happy and grateful to receive the sheets. To add to that number, the Sheltons discovered that their daughter’s church in the Wollongong area (south of Sydney) supported a charity called Books for Zim, which supports an orphanage in Zimbabwe. The charity indicated it would also be grateful to receive sheets for the kids there.

To get her plan into motion, Susan spoke to Grant Faatoia, owner of South Pacific Laundry in Port Macquarie, to see if he would be willing to give her all the sheets destined for landfill. He was delighted to help and told her she could have all she wanted. Grant said it cost him about $A1100 a tonne to send the sheets to landfill so it was a win-win situation. They had a little laugh knowing the sheets were coming from South Pacific Laundry and were going to missions in the South Pacific!

On the first Sunday of each month, Susan has a band of about 15 regular helpers who bring along their sewing machines, irons and ironing boards and spend the morning doing repairs, pressing and folding approximately 350-500 sheets. The sheets are then transported to the South Pacific Division office in Sydney where they are loaded into containers and sent to the “Adopt a Clinic” program and to Wollongong for transport to the orphanage in Zimbabwe.

How did Susan find out about the dumped sheets? The answer was quite simple: “My son-in-law has a relative who works at the laundry, who was talking about all the wastage.”

So from that comment came this fantastic idea that helps so many, thanks to a lady thinking outside the box and gathering a group of helpers to do good for one another.

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