Sewing Face Masks And How We Came Together in 2020

After many weeks of stay at home, and sewing face masks, I wanted to find out how this endeavour started. I sent out this questionnaire to our group leader, Susan Mitchell Mattera. She was kind enough to reply and here is the story.

How did you become involved in sewing face masks?

 A group of friends were sewing face masks and I was assisting in distributing masks to my fellow healthcare workers. The need was so great they were unable to meet the demand. So I decided to gather some of my friends who sew and together we formed a group of Masked Angels.

My mom became the cutter of the fabric and assembled the kits of fabric, elastic and pipe cleaners to distribute; my family and I did social distance drop offs of kits and pick up of completed masks at doors; while many talented ladies began to sew.

Face Mask Supplies: fabric for 12 masks, 24 pieces of elastic, pipe cleaners for nose guard

Where do you get your materials from? Have you received donations, money, supplies?  

Donations of fabric came from many of the ladies who were sewing. My family and I purchased elastic and pipe cleaners for the kits. When we were running low on fabric; my church “First Pentecostal Church of God in Long Beach” purchased fabric for us to continue sewing masks. I purchased some fabric and donated fabric to a local group sewing masks for the community.

The generosity of so many have made this into a work of love for the community. We have not sold any masks or taken any money donations. We wanted to do this from the heart to serve the community. Each person participating wanted to make a difference with their contribution of time and skills.

Are you buying the materials yourself?

We purchased about 60 yards of material; but for the first seven weeks, we have been grateful for each person sewing who not only donated their skills and time, but also remnants of left-over fabric for the masks from their stash. Their kindness and willingness to give made this possible. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to find or afford the materials.

How many people are sewing the masks? Putting the kits together?

Our nineteen (19) talented cutting, sewing and distributing angels are: 

Carson Residents-Susan Mitchell Mattera RN, MN Project Leader of Carson, Neil Mattera,

Rita Manley, Pamela Mitchell, Kathie Campbell, Melanie Campbell, Charlotte Cox, Lajuana Willet Lopez, Marianne Miller, Christy Tam, Josephine Rodriguez, Diane Johnson;

Harbor City Resident- Rebecca Montes; 

Lomita Resident- Nancy Christianson;

Long Beach- Linda Kam

Redondo Beach Resident- Kathy Bartholomew;

Torrance Residents- Nola Glass , MaryAnn Lynch, Theresa Heywood and Raelyn Duffy.

We appreciate all the donated time, skills, supplies, and travel they have donated to this project which has benefitted our communities.

4 sets of face masks sewn, 12 face masks in each bag.

Who are the recipients of the masks? Are people asking for masks?

Masks were delivered to healthcare workers and their families in hospitals, home health and hospice agencies, nursing homes, pre-schools, churches, book clubs, food distribution centers, congregate living facilities, frontline workers, grocery store workers, food services workers, homeless shelters, businesses throughout our communities. They were given to our community officials, local clubs serving our communities and state organizations who serve health care organizations.

Masks were mailed from Carson California to 31 States and Canada with postage being supported by Susan and her husband Neil.

People were so grateful to receive a mask and we collected pictures of some people who were kind enough to send us a snapshot of them in their masks.

There were great stories of masks arriving on special days like birthdays, an Air Force mask that arrived on a Dad’s birthday to a daughter whose Dad in still Missing In Action from the Vietnam War, and people who could not find or afford a masks.

May of these stories brought tears to our eyes but joy to our hearts, making all the time and effort worth every moment.

How many masks are you making? Do you have a goal on how many to make?

As of May 10, 2020 on Mother’s Day; we have made over 3000 masks. We will sew face masks until we run out of donated fabric or until the pandemic is declared over. Our goal is to provide everyone a mask for their safety if they wish to have one. This group is saving lives by providing masks. The masks made protects people and people have expressed a sense of relief to receive a mask; you can see anxieties go down on people’s faces.

When we felt we could do something for someone else, this group stepped up and did. I am so proud to know each one of these caring individuals.

Anything else you would like to say?

This project has brought together such a diverse group of individuals to help someone they may or may not know. It spread kindness and generosity when our world needed it the most.

Kathy Bartholomew