The first call came from a nurse in Decatur who said she and her coworkers desperately needed hand-sewn protective masks. Volunteers quickly mobilized at Tabernacle Baptist Church, making enough masks to fill the request, and many more.
Since late March, the group of sewers—including some novices—has produced more than 400 fabric masks. Project organizer Brenda Bailey said the masks are now being distributed to local nursing homes for residents to use. In April, the CDC recommended that Americans wear cloth face coverings when in public and unable to maintain social distancing.
Bailey’s group started out working in the gym at Tabernacle, being careful to maintain at least six feet of space between everyone except family members. They worked in morning and afternoon shifts of 10 at a time, making around 100 masks a day.
Now, with government officials emphasizing continued and heightened social distancing, the sewers are working from home. Bailey delivers supplies when they’re needed, and picks up finished masks from a drop-off point at the church.
People and churches from the area have donated fabric, sewing machines, and other supplies to the effort. One group member, a home economics teacher, brought in eight sewing caines for the group to use. “We taught about eight people how to sew that day,” Bailey said.
In fact, several of the volunteers didn’t know how to sew when the group started working, she said. But the project was simple and teachable enough that it gave sewers an easy way to contribute, and help their community.
“It’s something they felt they could do,” Bailey said. “It was coming close to home for them, so they wanted to help.”