By Kendra Hennis
Mask Makers for Douglas County was formed by four incredible women in hopes to consolidate efforts in Douglas County to get help to those in need of homemade cloth masks. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The Mask Makers for Douglas County Facebook group was formed by Phyllis Truitt, Stephany Rodgers Hove, Tammy Bennett, and Sally Foote and currently has 110 members from across the area. Donations have gone everywhere from nursing homes to businesses. In fact, Phyllis had even stopped me outside of the post office one day to ensure that I had a mask.
I was hoping to get some more information about the group and what they have done, and luckily I was able to steal some time out of Phyllis’ day for a more in depth look at the project.
What inspired you to step in and start making masks?
I saw Tammy Bennett’s post about the Douglas County Emergency Management Agency looking for volunteers to help during the pandemic. I responded. A few days later she contacted me with the mask project. I accepted!
How does the group work? For example, how could someone receive a mask if needed?
We formed to provide masks for health professionals, first responders and health compromised citizens in Douglas County.
We started by simply posting on our individual Facebook pages. Asking for seamstresses who would be willing to sew and donate! One of the first replies was from Ellen (Nogle) Proffitt. She is a TCHS alumni class of ‘93 and daughter of Donna Kidwell. She is a girls clothing designer and owns a company named Sweet Petunia Clothing. She generously offered to donate fabric and elastic! We were thrilled. The first shipment arrived and it felt like Christmas! I believe there were at least 60 yards of fabric and many of elastic. Wowza!
We posted that we had supplies and ladies responded! Sally Foote has helped with providing us with patterns, information, and helpful videos about mask making. My job is to take in supplies, keep track of who needs what, and deposit in a box on my porch for pick up! When the masks are completed they are dropped back into the box for distribution! Tammy would let me know who requested masks how many they need. I bag them and drop into the box. I do deliver supplies and pick up from porches to give our seamstresses more time to sew! Tammy created our page to simplify where requests were made. People asked to join to sew, donate or request. The number of ladies sewing has grown like crazy! Without her guidance and daily contact with the DCAMA, this project would have been a lot tougher, she is the glue that binds us together! We have around 20 who have contributed masks. Stephany Hove is on top of what is trending for mask wearers, such as headbands with buttons and crochet tabs (my term) with buttons. They both are designed to keep the elastic in place and off the tender ear tissue. Nurses love the headbands particularly! They wear their masks 12 to 15 hours a shift and their ears pay the price! The tabs are becoming more and more popular for those wearing their masks hours at a time.
Do you have an idea of how many volunteers you have making masks?
Around 20 for sure. I have no idea how many in the surrounding towns.
How many masks do you think the group has helped provide the community with?
Absolutely no firm number. But over 1000!
What can we as a community do to help you?
Wear your masks! Keep track of them and don’t throw them away! Wash and air dry after wearing!
This could happen again and until a vaccine is created and approved, COVID-19 remains extremely more contagious than strains of the flu.
If anyone has 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch flat buttons in grandmas fruitcake tins, we can use them! Place in a bag and drop into the box on my porch, 303 Pheasant Run Rd!
Is there anything else you would like added?
I absolutely thank each and every seamstress, those who have donated thread, buttons, fabric, yarn, sheets (for masks) elastic, and their time. Time is our most precious gift. I hope every person in our group and those sewing on their own know what a positive difference we have made together.