AUGUSTA — The ordeal of sitting through hours of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments eased a little for some two dozen women in central Maine with a gift of a comfort bag.

Those bags packed with goodies came from the Capital Area Federal Credit Union where president and CEO Diana Winkley had read about a woman preparing a similar bag after accompanying her sister for cancer treatment and realizing they had not brought anything with them to help pass the long hours.

Winkley wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to others, so she started a campaign to do comfort bags after talking to a few credit union members who were undergoing treatment.

“They thought it was a fabulous idea if it could bring comfort to somebody, even just a little bit of comfort for somebody going through a four- to five-hour chemo treatment,” she said.

She got the backing of the staff and board of the credit union, where she has worked for 26 years, the last eight as president and CEO.

She reached out to people via email, including her sister, Tammy Hardin, of Englewood, Colorado, who works in the travel industry and forwarded the message to her colleagues.

“This is something I saw and ran with it,” Winkley said, thrilled when donations began arriving from all over, including several cruise lines.

Credit union members and businesses and organizations that have worked with the credit union have donated bags and money as well.

Now, the credit union’s board room is the storage and assembly area for crossword, Sudoku and word search books and journals, decks of playing cards, packages of tissues, hand sanitizers, breath mints, stainless steel water bottles, fuzzy socks, eye masks, earplugs and pink bandannas.

Winkley handed out three comfort bags on Tuesday last week, and one woman said she was particularly pleased, telling her, “This is just for me.”

The recipients usually hear about the comfort bags through word-of-mouth and simply come to the South Belfast Avenue credit union and request one.

“Something just so simple is bringing comfort,” Winkley said, adding that 24 have been distributed since she started the effort in June.

“We give them to anybody that requests them,” she said. “They all come with pink bandanna. They’re more geared to women, but anybody that wants a little comfort, they don’t have to take the pink bandanna.”

Winkley said the credit union has always had a team participating in MaineGeneral Health’s Walk for Hope, and their larger community involvement has been with Maine Special Olympics.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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