The local sewing group Just Breathe, on Facebook, has just exceeded 1,000 masks sewn to meet the needs of healthcare professionals and local citizens all over the state of Alabama. While the majority of the masks have stayed in Jackson County, some masks have made it as far as Texas.
Group creator, Anna Lewis stated, “These ladies are like me and making them for family, friends and others. Masks are free, but we will take any love offerings to keep things going. We’ve had money and materials donated. Both are dispersed to us as needed.”
Lewis stated that while they do have 300+ members, only about 10-20 are doing the actual sewing and procuring of supplies.
Lewis stated if one of them needs supplies, even if they aren’t working on group requests, they get what they need.
Local businesses have also stepped in to help with dwindling supplies like fabric for the masks and the elastic for the fasteners. Noble Trucking Company has donated funds from the beginning to help with supplies. Maples Industries donated elastic and fabric. Walmart, currently Just Breathe’s only source of fabric, has closed the fabric cutting table, but at night they pre-cut yards of fabric and leave them for purchase. Ear savers were also donated by 86 West. In addition to local businesses helping out, Lewis stated they’ve had random strangers dropping off what fabric and supplies they have.
“Requests are still going strong, with more coming in. We are backed up, but we’re still working as fast as we can. Most of us are moms with little ones. Some of us are essential employees and still working jobs, coming home, cooking, teaching our kids and sewing in and out of free time.”
Currently there are several variations of masks. The most popular is cotton with a fleece lining. Another is a cotton mask with a filter pocket. A filter, paper towel or coffee filter can be inserted into the pocket before the mask is placed on the face.
The masks do need to be washed in warm water and dried on a hot cycle after each use. As some masks contain a metal strip over the nose, microwaving the masks to sterilize them is not recommended.
Lewis stated, “We are the new-aged We-Can Do-It women, armed with sewing machines. Women all across the United States are truly making a difference one cotton mask at a time.”
If you would like to contribute, donate or participate, you can reach out to the person who sewed a mask for you, your coworkers, your friends and your family. Or find them on Just Breathe on Facebook and look for Rosie the Riveter.
The Just Breath group’s Facebook page can be seen by clicking here.