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Queen’s alumna helping to protect frontline healthcare providers

Campaign led by Joanna Griffiths (Com’05) has raised more than $150,000 to purchase Personal Protection Equipment.

Joanna Griffiths
Joanna Griffiths (Com’05) is leading a campaign to raise funds to purchase Personal Protection Equipment for frontline healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joanna Griffiths (Com’05), was talking with her brother, a doctor working in a Hamilton hospital. He mentioned that masks, gloves, and gowns, also known as personal protective equipment (PPE), were in short supply, and that his fellow frontline health-care workers in hospitals, shelters, and clinics across the country were growing desperate.

Fortunately, Griffiths was in a position to offer support. She is, after all, the founder of Knixwear, a women’s intimate apparel manufacturer, the sixth fastest growing company in Canada.

“My brother said he was really worried about their PPE supplies and wondered if we could help them get access to supplies through my network,” she recalls.

Griffiths and her team sprang into action. They reached out to their manufacturing contacts and vendors, and found them willing to lend a hand. The next step was to find the resources. “We decided to launch a Go Fund Me campaign so that we could just get ahead of things,” she says. “We started ordering supplies so that they could be here immediately while these broader initiatives were taking place.”

The campaign has raised more than $150,000. All money raised is going directly toward purchasing the items to donate. Knix and its partners will cover all costs associated with shipping and distributing the items.

Confronting COVID-19 Read more articles in this series

They are now ordering and distributing PPE items across the country and have set up a registry where health-care facilities in need can sign up. “We’ve had 40 institutions fill out the form and that’s across the country,” Griffiths says. This means hospital workers can safely treat COVID-19 patients without the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

Griffiths recognizes her responsibility as someone in a position to help others. “We’ve done partnerships with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and different organizations,” she says. “A couple of years ago, we launched a campaign called Faces of Fertility to facilitate conversations around fertility. We also have our Positive Returns Program. When you order a bra from us online, if it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, we enable you to donate that to a local women’s shelter.”

“I think at the best of times, it’s every leader’s responsibility to give back to society,” she says. “And in times of crisis — and this really is a crisis — I think that responsibility increases.”

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.