Face mask shortages spark creative solutions

FREEPORT — For most of the year, the women of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Massbach spend their time making quilts to give to nursing homes, hospice care and for local veterans groups.

With many are practicing the stay at home safety measures, some in the group have changed direction in their sewing skills to make much-needed masks for people to wear to avoid contracting COVID-19.

To date, some of the quilters have made nearly 150 masks to be given to local nursing homes and to the employees of Sullivan’s grocery in Stockton.

“We just rolled up our sleeves and took a new direction to make sure people have what they need to be safe and feel comforted as we all go through this crisis,” Sherry Wilson Sager said. “It actually got started with a request from one nursing home to help protect their residents and we grew from there.”

The woman use quilting material, a heavier fabric, which helps give the masks a tighter fit. They have even had to become resourceful to find much-need elastic. Sager said they are using elastic taken from fitted bed sheets to keep the project going.

She adds there are four quilters who have committed to making the masks. They are Sager, Eileen Hughes, Pat Townsend and Margaret Luebke, all from the Stockton area.

“Many of the residents in nursing homes are not able to leave their rooms and there is a shortage of masks for them, as people working on the front lines need them, so whatever we can do to help is our new mission,” Sager said.

Sager said on one occasion she was getting tired while working late on the masks and was reminded by her husband that she and the other women may be saving a life.

“That’s my encouragement,” she said. “All of the masks that we are making are from leftover quilting material that we hand.”

Hughes said she has been able to keep up with the orders the women have gotten, and adds, “Making the masks makes me feel good to help somebody. Just being in public is scary these days, and if what we do helps they feel safer, then we have done our job.”

Sager said she stays humble about making the masks that may help save a life.

“Everyone is experiencing the same thing these days, and if we learn nothing else from this virus, it’s about sticking together and remembering others.”

Jane Lethlean: jlethlean1210@gmail.com; @DOGWMN2