Community support keeps supply of masks flowing

Published 6:01 pm Friday, April 3, 2020

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A group of sewing clubs and three churches have come together to help supply Memorial Hospital & Manor with N-95 masks during this Covid-19 crisis.

Nurse Sonya Williamson came up with the idea and brought it to the attention of her church, First Baptist, who enthusiastically endorsed it and became the central organization point for the project.

Williamson said the hospital has provided the special sheets of material, and the Georgia Industries for the Blind in Bainbridge set up a machine to cut the fabric to the correct size. The pattern and instructions came from Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany.

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Donations of elastic for the project came from Material Things and Visual Impulse Company Inc. of Whigham, while clerical hospital personnel began cutting the elastic to size.

First Presbyterian Church sewing club, Threads of Love, and a group of women from First Methodist Church immediately began sewing the masks last week.

The masks being made are being used to cover the N-95 masks and prolong their use. The covering can be removed and laundered and available for re-use.

Williamson said they estimate the project will produce 1500 masks.

Laura Pfeifer, who leads the Threads of Love, said her eight members are now sewing from their homes. One is even working from a lake house in Alabama, although they ordinarily meet on Wednesdays at the church from 3 to 6 p.m. She said her sewers are making two different masks: a rectangular shaped one for use in pharmacies and for others dealing with public contact. The blue ones go to the hospital for the N-95 project.

One of the seamstresses, Frances Pate, shared her experience, saying she had begun making masks at home from material she had on hand, and sending them to her relatives and friends who live in New York and Connecticut – some of the hardest hit areas.

She showed four of them to Laura and this week she received the fabric and elastic for the hospital masks. As of Thursday she has produced 26 of them.

The masks are picked up from drop boxes at the homes and delivered to the First Baptist Church office – the central point of the project.

Williamson said, “The entire community is coming together on this project,” and expressed appreciation for the companies, church members and individuals who have contributed time, materials and talent to complete the task. “It is all heart-felt.”