Local community members sew masks to help hospitals against COVID-19

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, March 26, 2020

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Members of the community are joining together to do what they can to give back to medical staffs across Troup County.

Lindsay Morris, who is a mother of two, a Franklin Forest Elementary School counselor and juggling virtual school for her students and two boys, is finding time in her day to sew together masks that mimic the N95 medical masks.

“My sister is a nurse, and she messaged me and said that there was probably going to be a shortage of masks,” Morris said. “She said that I should look into sewing some fabric masks. Then two more people told me that. So, I found a design and pattern and just started sewing.”

Jackson Services donated MERV13 filters to Morris that she will be able to cut up and insert into the masks.

“If correctly used with the filter insert, they can use it as a double barrier for coronavirus,” Morris said. “In the event that masks do run out, which I hope this doesn’t happen, or they need more of something, they have a washable mask with filter inserts that this particular MERV13 filter is equivalent to the N95 medical masks that they use.”

Morris said community members don’t need to know how to sew to help with this.

“I have had countless people tell me they want to help but don’t know how to sew,” Morris said. “Instead, I have had people donate to this. I had someone order me elastic for the masks. I have had someone Venmo me $20 to go towards making the masks.”

Morris plans to donate as many masks as she can make to any area hospitals or medical staff that may need them. She also added that they would get extra filters to interchange in the masks when needed.

“My husband is a hospital administrator, and I hear and know of all the pressing needs of hospitals and hospital staff right now,” Morris said. “I hope this helps.”

Positive Fields, a nonprofit Art and Technology Education Center in Hogansville, is working with Penny Willingham at Hometown Quilt Shop. 

“Penny is in charge of making cotton surgical masks,” Grady Sain with Positive Fields said. “She’s been making them now for about five days straight, and it’s her and several volunteers.” 

Sain said they have been able to donate masks to medical professionals throughout the Carrolton area and Troup County. 

Positive Fields is creating plastic mask shields that are to be worn in conjunction with the surgical masks. 

“The urgency is so high; the demand is so high, and everybody’s out of stock,” Sain said. “There are many, many organizations doing exactly what we’re doing right now, all across the nation, all across the world. Penny is doing about, on average, a little over 100 masks a day.” 

Sain said they are doing this completely free and on a volunteer basis. 

“They’re strictly designed to be used in emergency situations when supply is limited, and there are no other sources for people to get access to personal protective equipment,” Sain said. 

Positive Fields and Hometown Quit Shop are asking if anyone has any information about hospitals, medical facilities or emergency services that are in need, that they reach out to them at (323) 877-9374 or email positivefields@gmail.com.

Other organizations like New Ventures are also doing what they can to donate and make masks. 

“We are fortunate to have the sewing machines, talents and materials available,” said Marketing and Sales Specialist Anabeth Ivey. “We just wanted to help.”

New Ventures was recently able to donate 26 masks to Harmony House, a domestic violence help center, and the Calumet Center. 

“Within reason, we want to continue donating where ever they are needed and can be used,” Ivey said. “We have employees that sew New Ventures products and do contract work for industry partners. They have been with us for several years and train others to sew.” 

Ivey said staff and employees want to help the community during this pandemic in any way they can.

“New Ventures is always grateful for an opportunity to serve the community,” Ivey said. “We are thrilled to see everyone come together and support one another in so many creative ways.”

Due to the mandatory closing of dine-in areas, 505 Eats owner Joyce Sato has an assembly line set up in her dine-in area, where she, her children and a co-worker are making masks. 

“We are on double-duty work, meaning when it is not busy with call-ins for food, we are making masks,” Sato said. “They may not be perfect, but I hope it can help. Doing what we can to pass the time.” 

Sato plans to donate to any local healthcare workers that need them first, then will ship to New Jersey, where there is a significant shortage. 

“My cousin in New Jersey was making masks since Gov. Cuomo was asking for them because the facilities need them,” Sato said. “I wanted to help and since I know how to sew and we had time, why not do our part to help.” 

Sato makes the masks out of 100 percent cotton poplin. Some have felt or interfacing inside for more stability.

“Obviously, these are not surgical masks, but these can be helpful for staff members who may not be in critical contact with patients,” Sato said. “Maybe these can alleviate supplies for medical staff who really need specialized masks. At times like these, we need to come together to help our community. We need to be selfless, not selfish. Give when you can, whether it’s time, money or volunteering. As always, I thank my customers for continuously supporting 505 Eats and my family.”