With all the stress placed on wearing a face mask when leaving home during the COVID-19 crisis, some member of the Peach State Stitchers with a sewing machine or other creative talents found a way to use their skills and resourcefulness to help save lives and ensure good health.
From the novice to the more experienced sewer, several members hand-crafted face masks not only for their own use, but also donated them to hospitals, senior living facilities, the military, family and friends who needed them.
Member Susan Big used Jewish-themed fabrics saved from prior quilting projects to make four dozen face masks that she donated to Berman Commons assisted living facility. She was responding to a March 31, 2020e-blast from The Auxiliary of The William Breman Jewish Home asking those with sewing skills to create face masks "to help residents and staff stay safe" at Jewish HomeLife facilities. The Victory-from-Virus masks effort included instructions for making the masks and a pattern.
"Making the masks was not just an act of tzedakah, as charitable giving, but was also acts of tikkun olam, repairing the world," Big said, adding that she was sewing "with love, hopes and prayers, casting spells for good health."
Big also made masks for a new group, Sewing Masks for Area Hospitals, for which face mask collection and distribution was coordinated for volunteers to help provide face masks for Emory, Grady and Piedmont hospitals, among others.
Another member, Cheryl Miller said, "What sprung overnight, long before we were advised to wear face masks ourselves" was finding others from her synagogue Temple Emanu-El and the Peach State Stitchers group who wanted to make face masks. The vast majority of PSS members are Jewish.
After making them first for family, Miller wanted to donate to first responders. Initially she and her friends couldn't find hospitals who wanted them, "but we kept making them, knowing the tide would turn - and it did." People told friends, some of whom were doctors and nurses who wanted the fabric masks for second-tier workers to leave the professional masks for the first-tier workers.
Miller made 12 masks to hand out to grocery clerks during senior hours at her local Kroger. She said she had worked "several hours a day for five weeks, giving out about 70 masks."
One recipient of Miller's masks was Dr. Mitzi Rubin of WellStar-East Cobb Family and Geriatric Medicine. "Miller's fully-washable masks were used mostly to supplement face mask quantities for staff at work when other disposable paper folded masks were in very short supply," Rubin said.
Member Meg Fisher a tallit maker responded to a request on Facebook group Jewish Moms of East Cobb to fulfill requests for handmade face masks. The child of a Temple Kol Emeth friend, who needed specialized care at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in Florida, inspired Fisher to make and send 28 masks to the hospital in the child's honor.
As an Air Force brat growing up, then an Army spouse and with 2 sisters-in-law who are medical officers in the Navy and the Air Force member Rebecca Spitler felt the call to help her military family. Spitler’s sister-in-law, who is a Lt. Col in the Air Force and a trained and licensed pharmacist, was in command of a medical unit of about 300 soldiers at Travis AFB in California. Spitler says, “She asked if I could make 50 masks for her team. She told me they preferred masks with elastic that could go over the ears and pleated in the front.
After secretly conferring with her husband I found out that she could use more than 50 masks (I had been thinking about making 100 - 150). I ordered full bolts (8 yards each) of patriotic themed fabric and ¼" elastic on a bulk spool and had it delivered to my home. I found that I had enough fabric to make 250 masks.”
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