Military spouses are stepping up to help the helpers.
During this season of social distancing and voluntary lockdown, many are feeling helpless or discouraged. The world seems to be turned on its axis — allowing brooms to stand at attention — and the country at large seems to be spiraling out of control. Businesses are closing, schools are shut down, and families are “sheltering in place” to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19.
In the midst of this mayhem, medical masks are in short supply — leaving essential staff, health care workers, first responders, and service-industry employees open and vulnerable to exposure.
Some hospitals and other health organizations have taken to social media, calling on all hobby crafters and sewing fanatics to rise to the occasion and send aid. These communities are asking for homemade face masks that can supplement the shortage. In response to the great need of those braving the dangers of exposure in order to continue serving the public, a few military spouses have come together to give back.
Sarah Mainwaring, presidential nominee of the Robins AFB Spouses Club in Georgia, is a hobby seamstress and community advocate. One morning while scrolling through social media, she stumbled across one of the requests from hospital personnel asking for masks. Attached to the post was a YouTube tutorial on how to craft a supplemental mask, using basic and simple sewing techniques.
She called a few neighbors, including myself, to rally support and supplies. After acquiring several hundred yards of fabric, elastic — and a few friends who can run a needle — she put on a pot of coffee (or three) and we began to sew. While sitting at least six feet away from each other, we assembled over 100 masks in 24 hours.
Three, sometimes four women, congregated around my kitchen table, sewing and singing along to 90’s gangster rap. It was not your grandma’s sewing circle. Only two of us knew how to sew, but the others cut fabric, trimmed elastic, tied a few knots, and went on mandatory food runs. Panda Express was crucial in the making of these masks.
Mainwaring stepped up to help in the effort to curb mask shortage, and you can too. With minimal sewing skills, a hot cup of coffee, and a small fabric stash, you can support those who are so selflessly serving.
Here’s how you can help:
Organize a local effort.
Put a post on social media, asking if anyone is interested in sewing masks. Or, ask a few friends or members of your local church if they would be willing to help. Many crafters have a “fabric stash” and they may be willing to contribute. In addition, JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores are giving away free materials to crafters for mask making. After the masks are returned to the store, the company will distribute them to hospitals in need.
Support those that are sewing.
Not a fan of the sewing machine? You can still help some amazing craft wizards by purchasing materials, grabbing elastic (because it selling out everywhere), or sending a few dollars to fund the initiative.
During this self-quarantined time, Mainwaring is challenging the military community to come together and lead the way. She knows there are some talented sewing brothers and sisters in the active duty, military spouse, and veteran communities. She is asking that we commit to creating 10,000 homemade masks to show the world that this community cares.
To get started, we have included a tutorial that shows, step by step, how to make a facial mask.
Coming together in this time to show and give compassion is soup for the soul. We maintained a safe distance, washed hands often, and took proper safety precautions. During the week, we are all cutting fabric, trimming elastic, and preparing masks to be sewn. We will come together one day a week, while sitting six feet away from each other, and sew them all. We have a goal of 1,000 masks from and for the Robins AFB community.
Together, we can truly make an impact for those that are fearlessly facing COVID-19. Join us and show us your masks! Use the #MilSpoMaskMaker and let’s encourage each other to show up, help out, and give back.