Sewing groups share gifts by making thousands of masks during COVID-19 pandemic

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

Whenever there is a crisis, communities often rise up and come together for the common good.

There are heroes who wear uniforms, and there those who wear medical coats, but sometimes our local heroes are simply citizens using their God-given gifts and talents to help the cause.

Thousands of homemade masks have been sewn and distributed throughout Sunflower County by volunteers. Some of these masks have even made their way all over the United States, giving people the ability to move more freely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indianola’s Robin Rosenthal, with the help of Rosemary Miller, Twanda Williamson and Mary Moton, said around 900 masks have been made by her outfit.

Anna Free from Indianola’s Church of Christ said that dozens have been made by members of her church and given out at the local nursing homes like Indywood and Indianola Rehabilitation.

It’s not surprising that the highest volume of homemade masks has come from Moorhead, where Moorhead Garden Club members Brenda Grubb, Alice Williams and Ann Timbs have sewn over 2,000 masks over the past two months.

Grubb, Williams and Timbs are no strangers to going above and beyond the call of their civic duty.

When the Yanky 72 military plane crash occurred almost three years ago, they stepped up and made sure that the 16 servicemen would be forever remembered through multiple monuments and events.

In fact, several family members of the Yanky 72 crew have received masks, including one who lives in New York.

“She didn’t have a mask, and she couldn’t find a mask,” Grubb said. “She was beyond thrilled.”

Although Grubb, Williams and Timbs have sent their finished products to grandkids, family friends and others outside of Sunflower County, most of the masks have been used by neighbors close to home.

The Start of a New Mission

Like soldiers, the ladies of the Moorhead Garden Club always stand ready for their next mission and ministry.

If a crisis hits close to home, they are going to figure out a way to help.

“I contacted these two ladies, because it was evident there was going to be a need for masks,” Grubb said.

With over 50 years of sewing experience each, the skill level was there, and so were bags of stored materials from over those decades.

“It was unbelievable the amount of material we had stockpiled,” Grubb said.

Timbs had a little bit of elastic on hand to complete the first masks.

“We started out with whatever elastic we had, because we thought we were just going to provide for our families and our close friends and our church,” Grubb said.

At first Grubb rationed the elastic to her sewing partners.

“She would give it to us 10 yards at a time,” Williams joked.

Pretty soon, they realized they were going to need more elastic.

Each spool has 144 yards, and they needed 14 inches of elastic for each mask.

“It wasn’t long until it became obvious that the elastic was soon going to run out,” Grubb said. “So I ordered two more, and then I ordered two more.”

They are now on their fifth spool.

At first, they thought they would provide masks for people in their immediate circles, but that soon expanded, as it became apparent many were unable to find them as the pandemic worsened.

Timbs herself has 11 grandchildren she was supplying. Some family members would ask for more masks for their friends and co-workers.

Masks were sent to a nursing home in Grenada, one in Cleveland, along with a daycare facility, Delta State students, Delta Grace interns, Indianola Family Medical Clinic, South Sunflower County Hospital, North Sunflower Medical Center, Greewood-Leflore, multiple churches in Moorhead, the local Post Office, city workers in Moorhead, the Moorhead Police Department, the Sunflower County Sheriff’s Department, two veterinarian clinics and so many more.

Williams said she was in the drive-thru at Planters Bank and ended up giving masks to those who were working that day.

The sewers’ biggest order was from Mississippi Delta Community College, where they delivered 220 masks for campus faculty and staff.

Williams said it was always important for the group to get the masks to the recipients as soon as possible.

“We were very prompt,” she said. “If we got an order, we were dedicated to the fact they would have them as soon as we got them made.”

When they got the  order from the daycare in Cleveland, they told the staff the masks would be delivered the next day, but they did not let up that afternoon.

“I delivered it in pajamas that night,” Williams said. “They had their masks by the next day.”

Grubb, Williams and Timbs have always been a great team, and they have always shared a common focus in serving others.

“I don’t think there’s been a cross word between us,” Timbs said.

Each has provided support to the others by giving their time, materials and even cooking for the group.

Mission Nearly Complete

Like all great missions, this one will have to come to an end.

The ladies feel like they have met the needs of so many in their communities, and while they are still sewing and completing some orders, they are starting to look forward to their next mission that God has planned for them.

“We think that we’re winding down and that we’ve met the need, because we are at the end of this mission and ministry that we started out on,” Williams said. “We think that we have fulfilled most of the needs that we possibly could, and we think it’s time to move on to maybe our next project, whatever that may be.”

Throughout the past couple of months, Williams has taken her machine to Vicksburg on multiple occasions to have it fixed or serviced.

Grubb’s sewing machine died completely and had to be replaced during the process.

“This has been work, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” Grubb said. “It has been a lot of fun. We know that we have met a need.”

Williams said part of the fun was everyone looking through their materials and discovering what they already had, although she said she is down to mostly solid colors at this point.

“Our children are so happy we’re doing this, because they’re not going to have to dispose of it all,” Grubb joked.

Others Filling the Need

Rosenthal said that she, Miller, Wlliamson and Moton have made just under 1,000 masks that have gone to Indianola Family Medical Clinic, the Indianola Police Department, the fire department, public works, City Hall, the animal shelter, Greenwood-Leflore Hospital, Indywood, the Health Department, a research lab in Dallas, Texas and other cites, including New Orleans.

“In other words, whoever said, ‘I need a mask’ received a mask,” Rosenthal said. “Every time I thought I was done, I would find out I needed to start on another group.”

Anna Free from Indianola’s Church of Christ said her group has made well over 100 masks for residents of local nursing homes like Indywood and Indianola Rehabilitation.

“We have also made a few for individuals to wear when going for medical treatments,” Free said.

There have been several others who have contributed masks to individuals and organizations. There are almost too many to name, but they are heroes nonetheless, and have been invaluable during a time of crisis.

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