Residents across Dallas County are working together to help provide handmade masks to local organizations and healthcare workers in need.
Adel resident Kristy Hall first began making the masks after joining the Facebook group, “Masks for the Frontlines Iowa.” Hall said that the administrators of the page not only communicate current needs throughout the community but also help group members find ways to donate.
In addition, Hall has also been approached by people needing masks because of health reasons but have not been able to purchase them due to the shortage of supply.
“After I put out a call on Facebook for some supplies, I got a message from a friend going through chemo asking if I would sew a mask for her. She said she is only allowed to leave the house to go to her chemo appointments, and has to wear a mask but none are available,” Hall said. “So even if hospitals gather enough masks for their staff, other community members are in need.”
After seeing a pattern posted to her business Facebook page, Jacque Johnson of Adel Quilting reached out to the Adel Acres regarding their current needs. She has also made masks for neighbors and family members. Johnson said that any fabric will work when creating the masks and that each requires 2 6”x9” rectangles of fabric and 2 6” pieces of elastic.
“I called Adel Acres to see if they had a need. They told me they are still virus-free but welcome homemade masks so they can be prepared in the event they have a breakout and are not able to acquire enough masks. I advised followers to hang them in a bag at the nursing home door after first calling ahead,” Johnson said.
In Dallas Center, Kristine Jimenez and community members are also working to make masks for both Spurgeon Manor and Kids Korner after coming across the idea on social media. She has since placed a tub outside her home that serves as a place to drop off and pick up masks while still maintaining social distancing.
“It makes me feel like we have a purpose and in a time where you don’t have a lot of control of the situation, doing what you can do is helpful,” Jimenez said. “Community residents are definitely stepping up to encourage others and meet needs.”
Handmade masks across the Dallas County area have ranged in patterns, with some of the seamstresses stating that elastic is becoming more difficult to find. Materials used have also varied from 100 percent cotton to breathable dress bags that were donated by Stacey’s Bridal in Urbandale. In addition, some people have created pleated masks as an alternative as well as Olson masks and masks with strings.
“The handmade masks have been a lifesaver, literally,” Spurgeon Manor Administrator Maureen Cahill said. “Spurgeon Manor staff would not have protection without them because of the current shortage of disposable masks. Spurgeon Manor has received such a wonderful response from the community that, for now, there is currently an adequate supply. If the masks wear out from washing, Spurgeon Manor will put out another request to the community for help but encourages reaching out to other senior living communities or hospitals who may have immediate needs.”
The CDC has also recommended the use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures may be difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. However, those making the handmade masks have asked that community members not approach them directly in order to maintain social distancing and focus on providing masks to local healthcare workers in need.
Those interested in learning more about donating masks should contact their local organization first as different establishments have different requirements.