By Theresa Flerx
Greenbrier Valley residents are not used to sitting still, especially during a crisis. Action taken following the flood of 2016 was proof of that. People in Southern West Virginia may be told the best course of action during this pandemic is to stay at home, but that doesn't mean they need to sit idly by as COVID-19 creeps closer. The medical community, private citizens and several political figures have put out a call to anyone handy with a sewing machine.
Local quilters, alteration specialists, amateur seamstresses and seamsters suddenly left with time on their hands are putting there collective feet to the pedal making face masks to provide some level of protection against this novel virus. Social media is crowded with pictures of masks stitched by area crafters and professional needleworkers.
When proms, weddings and other formal occasions began canceling in the past few weeks, Fairlea alteration shop owner, Debbie Bryant, turned her attention to filling the needs of groups, organizations, home healthcare providers and people with immunity issues seeking a "little extra protection."
Noting that her masks aren't medical grade intended for use against "full on virus in your face," they do offer some protection during person-to-person contact when COVID-19 is not thought to be present.
Although Bryant was purchasing 100 percent cotton and several types of elastic from Michelle Morgan at Friendly Fabrics, Morgan said customers were buying different types of materials depending on the organization requesting the mask, as "each one requires certain standards." Some groups are seeking masks with pockets to insert filters. Summers County resident, Brenda Rivers, is staying busy making a pleated version of masks. Both Rivers and Bryant are using various patterns and colors suitable for men, women and children.
Morgan is making every effort to supply local sewers in this effort while attempting to keep her family and clients healthy; she is opening the shop by appointment only and conducting transactions outside while conforming to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The best way to contact her is through the Friendly Fabrics Facebook page.
The West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments is asking volunteers to make two types of masks to be disseminated to local health care organizations, "Local health departments are central to community planning for public health emergencies and are responsible for distribution of supplies in their communities. The West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments is welcoming fabric masks for our communities across the state."
Although not ideal, the organization explains that, "According to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted. Local health departments, healthcare facilities, and hospitals can sterilize these masks and use them repeatedly as needed."
Charleston Area Medical Center is leaving materials and mask patterns at designated pick-up and drop-off locations.
CAMC sought support for the program, "Calling those who sew! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). CAMC is asking volunteers who have the ability to sew to make masks. If you are not able to sew, we will accept donations of clean and new 100 percent cotton fabric and elastic that can be used for ear loops."
Starting Monday, March 23, CAMC will have designated bins for the community to drop off masks and donate supplies. The bins will be available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:
CAMC Human Resources - 419 Brooks St, Charleston, WV 25301
CAMC Women and Children's Hospital (Physician offices side) - 830 Pennsylvania Ave, Charleston, WV 25302
CAMC Breast Center - 3415 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 25304
CAMC Teays Valley Human Resources - First Floor, Putnam Plaza, Hurricane, WV 25526
Christ Church United Methodist - 1221 Quarrier St, Charleston, WV 25301
Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist Church - 108 Oakwood Rd, Charleston, WV 25314
Bible Center Church - 100 Bible Center Dr, Charleston, WV 25309
CAMC's pattern requires 100 percent cotton material. Visit this link for instructions and materials needed to make the masks:https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/. If elastic is unavailable for ear loops, it is acceptable for ties to be made from the fabric.
For any questions, visit camc.org/Masks or call the CAMC Volunteer services office at 304-388-7426.
Greenbrier Valley, now is the time to drag that old sewing machine out of the closet and start stitching.