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The power of a hug… and a mug

Woman in winter coat carrying five Heart Hug mugs

Caring for patients with acquired brain injuries can sometimes take a heavy toll. This work often involves supporting families as they adjust to the new reality that the brain injury has taken away the person they once knew.  Before COVID, the team at the Acquired Brain Injury Inpatient Unit (ABI) at The Ottawa Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre would find comfort in coming together to talk after a tough day –  and to share the occasional hug. 

When the pandemic hit, social distancing protocols prevented staff comforting one another in the same way.  They could only lend an ear to one another from six feet apart – a far cry from a warm hug.

Stacey Smith, a behavioral therapist who has worked at The Ottawa Hospital for 19 years, recently wrote to Christina Stapper, potter and owner of CMS Pottery, with an idea.

Woman in winter coat carrying five Heart Hug mugs

“I thought, what if I could gift my colleagues with a handmade hug mug – something as beautiful and unique as they are to show what they mean to me and what they bring to the table – something to show that while we may be physically-distanced, we are not alone,” says Stacey.

Touched by Stacey’s letter, Christina launched the ‘Heart Hug Mug’ Campaign at CMS Pottery on February 1.  She created 40 specially-designed mugs featuring red 3D hearts.  Each mug was unique – just like the people they were made for.

Photo collage of staff from The Ottawa Hospital displaying their Heart Hug mug
When COVID put an end to hugs, a local potter created unique Heart Hug mugs to remind staff at The Ottawa Hospital that the community supports them.

For each Heart Hug mug purchased by the public, CMS Pottery would donate one mug to ABI unit staff. Heart Hug mug sales and support soared; 40 mugs were sold in the first 39 minutes of the campaign. Now, all 40 members of the ABI unit have their very own Heart Hug mug, thanks to Stacey.

Two hospital staff sitting at a table holding their Heart Hug mugs.
The fundraiser by CMS Pottery was a runaway success.  Forty Heart Hug mugs were sold in the first 39 minutes.

Stacey wrote this special note to each ABI Heart Hug mug recipient: “When you wrap your hands around your mug, know that I have my arms around you.”

Sending you all the hugs, Ward C!


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