Essex woman sews masks for healthcare workers

An Essex woman is doing her part to help those on the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Melissa Chambers started sewing masks over the weekend that can be used by healthcare workers.

“They aren’t medical grade by any stretch,” said Chambers, “but in some cases they can be used over a medical grade filter or they have a pocket for a filter. They can lengthen the life of the real filter. In some situations this is as good as it gets and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said when this is the only option they are acceptable.”

She calls this project “the beauty of social media,” saying she saw a Facebook friend from across the country was doing this and she wanted to help.

“I shared it to see if any of my friends or relatives in the healthcare field might need some,” said Chambers, “and the results were overwhelming.”

She heard some hospitals won’t use them yet, but an area home health agency reached out and asked for a couple dozen. Friends and family members have asked for some as well just to have on hand.

Chambers has sewn most of her life and has accumulated a large supply of fabric. She ran out of the elastic used to make one design of the masks, but continues to work on other designs while waiting for a shipment of elastic that’s scheduled to arrive at her home late this week.

She had completed about 60 masks as of 1 p.m. Monday and hoped to have close to 50 sent out by the end of Monday.

Her goal is to complete at least a couple hundred just from the requests she has received. She is not accepting payment.

Chambers said after completing the requests she has received, she hopes to work with a couple different Facebook groups: Million Mask Challenge Nebraska and Masks for the Frontlines Iowa, to continue to make more. Those two groups combined for more than 2,100 members as of Tuesday morning.

She has seen multiple fabric stores that are putting together kits to sell to those that may have a machine, but no supplies. Chambers said an employee at an area nursing home reached out to her, saying she had a resident that wanted to help but didn’t have any supplies. Chambers was able to purchase a couple kits and have them sent to the resident.

Chambers suggests anyone wanting to help sew masks to contact Meredith Klein with Million Masks for Nebraska at 402-612-8365 or herself at 712-370-2496.

Chambers realizes sewing isn’t for everyone, but said there are things all of us can do for the frontline workers or an elderly neighbor.

“We need to have our eyes and ears open to help meet needs,” said Chambers.

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