By Lorie Ham
During this difficult time, it has been encouraging to see so many people stepping up and using their skills and time to help others. One way that this has been happening across the country is by making face masks, since it is nearly impossible to buy them in stores or normal online sources. Even health care and other essential workers have trouble finding enough. Some people are making them to sell (often donating some of the money to those who need it right now) and some are making them to give to those on the front lines.
One such group that has been stepping up is the Mennonite Quilt Center (MQC) in Reedley, CA. MQC is a part of the Mennonite Central Committee, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches who serve by responding to basic human needs in the name of Christ. The MQC is a retail fabric store that carries primarily 100% cotton fabric for quilt making. They teach classes in quilt making and sewing, and sell completed quilts and other items.
When asked how they became involved in making the face masks, their manager Pam Jackson shared that it came about as soon as the shelter-in-place order came out. “The leadership team at MCC-West Coast and MQC recognized immediately that the mask-making effort was something we wanted to support, as it is at the heart of our mission. We made the decision immediately and then developed our plan. We began distributing donated fabric on March 22 through curbside pickup.”
Many of their staff of clerks and volunteers, as well as many of their customers, have been making masks at home for multiple organizations. “Some of our people have made a few hundred, some a few dozen,” continued Pam. “Although I am not at liberty to give specific names of organizations, they have been donated to health care workers, fire and police departments, retirement homes, and families.”
Most of their quilters took the initiative on their own to begin making the masks, and then they distribute them directly to whichever organization they are supporting free of charge. “This direct to organization method gets them in the hands of workers quickly.”
MQC has provided access to a mask pattern created by a nurse, Jessica Nandino, which she shared on Instructables. “We chose this pattern because it has tie straps from fabric instead of elastic straps.” Elastic quickly became difficult to obtain because of the sudden high demand. Quilters are resourceful, and there have been a multitude of variations. We provided the pattern on our Facebook page, and provided it to people who received fabric from MQC. The masks are two layers of cotton with a tight weave.”
For those interested in helping, whether through donations to help volunteers get the supplies they need, or if anyone is willing to donate masks, time, or supplies, they can contact Pam via email at [email protected].
Anyone who would like to purchase fabrics and supplies from MQC, they are being sold on their website www.mennonitequiltcenter.org. They offer curbside pickup on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. People are welcome to call with any questions they may have during those times as well at 559-638-3560.
For lose looking for more information on the best types of masks to make they can find more info in this recent New York Times article.
If you are making masks to donate, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a post on our Facebook page