Volunteers sew, donate face masks to help keep people safe during COVID-19 outbreak

Volunteers sew, donate face masks to help keep people safe during COVID-19 outbreak

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The number of COVID-19 cases is growing, and the supply of medical gear like masks is dwindling. It’s a dire situation for medical workers as they put their own lives at risk to fight coronavirus.

So some volunteers are stepping up to do their part to help with the shortage.

Barbara-Lynn Matula and her best friend Rebecca Barbour wanted to do what they could to help those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and now they’re doing that, stitch by stitch. They’ve decided to sew reusable face masks to donate to first responders, hospitals and nursing homes.

Matula posted their plan to Facebook last week and asked for donations to get started. Within hours, her idea started gaining traction. People from all over, including Long Beach business What’s Your Stitch, donated yards and yards of fabric and elastic.

“To see everybody coming together, it’s so heartwarming. I’m getting chills and goosebumps just thinking about it,” Matula said.

It’s all being put to good use as they now have around 400 requests for these homemade masks.

“It’s overwhelming at times, and I’m loving every minute of it. I love having the help I have, and being able to help my community," Barbour said.

Barbara-Lynn Matula and Rebecca Barbour delivered some masks to the Long Beach Police Department. The officer pictured is Kipper Thomas
Barbara-Lynn Matula and Rebecca Barbour delivered some masks to the Long Beach Police Department. The officer pictured is Kipper Thomas (Source: Barbara-Lynn Matula)

Though fabric masks aren’t ideal, the CDC does say they’re acceptable as a last resort in times of crisis, like now. These masks are made using a CDC compliant pattern from Deaconess Hospital in Indiana. Some health care workers use them as a protective cover for N-95 masks, so they can be reused.

They don’t plan to make a dime off these masks, even though the pandemic has put them out of work.

“We’re just 10 people trying to help and it makes the world go round," Barbour said.

Now, they’re calling for anyone with a willing heart who knows how to sew to join their efforts.

“You don’t even have to come here. We will arrange the pickup from you, we will send you the link that has everything, just if you know how to sew, please let us know,” Matula said.

The group says they are in desperate need of elastic and volunteers. To help, contact Barbara-Lynn Matula on Facebook. You can also contact Matula at 228-265-2517 or Barbour at 865-606-3651.

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