When is a tote more than a tote? When it’s a Labour of Love

She thought it was a St. Patrick’s Day celebration but, what it was, was an appreciation by nurses and hospital staff for Pastor Darlyne (Dar) Rath.

Champlain Dar Rath surrounded by hospital staff

Pastor Rath has made individual totes for almost everyone on the Saugeen Memorial Hospital staff.

Each one is unique, each is a labour of love and a demonstration of appreciation to those who keep Saugeen Memorial Hospital running smoothly.

Pastor Rath, hospital chaplain set about making the individual tote bags at Christmas time.  “I started thinking about it when I saw hospital staff working on Christmas day.  I made six or seven totes for them and then I started thinking about the other nurses who work holidays and nights, keeping the hospital going.  So I started making more.  Then, I thought about the Community Care Access (CCAC) staff and the X-ray staff and then the staff in the labs and health records.”

First thing she knew, she had made 95 totes for hospital staff, including the doctors, and is still going as she doesn’t want to miss anyone.

Rath began making the hand-crafted totes five years ago for ‘special’ occasions and people.  Since then, she has made hundreds and each is unique.  It takes her approximately three hours to make a tote from start to finish and they are reversible.

A long-time quilter, Rath tries to buy all her materials locally if possible and finds that the stuffing used is the most expensive of the materials.

Rath, herself, has three totes each with a different purpose … one for her ministry materials, one for swimming and the beach and one for her music as she is also a singer with the Chantry Singers.

Many of them have been put into auctions that are fundraisers, such as the Chesley Food Bank.

Then she decided to make a special tote along with a hand-written note for each of the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Auxiliary volunteers.

In turn, the volunteers brought their totes to their meeting at the Southampton Rotary Scout Hall for a special photo.

“We wanted to show Rev. Dar how special she is to us and how much we appreciate what she does at our local hospital,” said Auxiliary President Ann Veyvara-Divinski.  “It’s folks like Darlene that really are so special to not only our hospital but to all the people that are part of the community.”

While the group was hoping that Reverend Dar would be present for the photo, she had to officiate at a funeral and was unable to attend.