‘It’s going to take an army': Hancock Co. volunteers team up to mass-produce homemade face masks

Hancock Co. volunteers team up to mass-produce homemade face masks

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Right now, masks are hard to find, if not impossible, and for those who rely on those masks for protection, that’s a big problem.

One Hancock County group is stepping up to be the solution by using its sewing skills.

Volunteers at The King’s Kitchen work hard year-round to feed those in need, but this week, they too, were in need....of face masks.

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a severe nationwide shortage of masks.

“Because we work in the public, we have to make sure that we take care of the people, and it was like ‘Oh my God, by the end of this week, we’re going to be out of masks!’” said Connie Lyons, outreach pastor for The King’s Kitchen and Central Bible Church.

Lyons reached out to a Facebook group out of Hancock County called Mask Response. The group is working hard to mass-produce hundreds of homemade masks to donate to nursing homes, healthcare facilities, and now, soup kitchens.

“Connie Lyons - who works here - contacted me and said we need masks, and I said, ‘Of course, just tell me how many you need and when you need them,’" said Rhonda Gamble, who created the group. “A lot of them have autoimmune issues so they have stepped up and they’re continuing to do their work even though they’re at risk, so we wanted to do our part to help them.”

Gamble said each mask takes about 30 minutes to make. She was up until 2 a.m. making the ten masks she delivered to the King’s Kitchen on Wednesday.

Her hard work is much appreciated.

“We’re just grateful that we’ll be able to help the community, and stay healthy," Lyons said.

“My pastor Mike Ramsey is so excited. I told him don’t worry about us, we are covered, because Rhonda’s heart of compassion made these masks for us so we can be covered today," she later added.

The masks are constructed in such a way that a filter can be inserted into the mask to aid in keeping germs out. Gamble said there’s such an overwhelming need for these masks, that it’ll take an army to get them all done.

She hopes others with the skill to sew will join their efforts.

“This is Lent and we’re called to alms-giving during Lent, and so that’s basically what we’re trying to do here, we’re trying to give back, and anything that we can do, if it’s just simply sewing masks, it’s worth it,” Gamble said.

The World Health Organization reminds people that masks are only effective when they’re used in combination with frequent and proper hand-washing.

Anyone who can sew is welcome to join the Mask Response group on Facebook. Gamble also said the group is in desperate need of elastic, fabric, and thread.

Individuals or organizations in need of masks can private message the group, though Gamble said all requests will be prioritized.

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