In the last two weeks, a Grady County woman has turned a small stash of sewing supplies into enough hand crafted masks to protect hundreds of healthcare workers. Becky Harrell says when she saw on social media that doctors and nurses were wearing cloth coverings over their N95 surgical masks to help them last longer, she thought about the limited supply of elastic and fabric she had from when she sewed clothes for her daughter years ago.
“I thought, I have some fabric and elastic and I’ll make some. Then, people at church started leaving fabric at church for me,” says Harrell.
When she ran out of elastic, she posted a request on Facebook to see if anyone had some they could donate to her quest to provide aid during this pandemic.
“People from our church with stashes (of sewing supplies) and their grandmother’s stashes, they all gave,” exclaims Harrell. “It’s been unreal! I’ve made hundreds. It’s been pretty neat to watch the Lord to keep supplying it.”
And, that’s a good thing, because her masks are popular. “About as quickly as I make them, they’re gone,” she says.
In less than three weeks, Harrell has finished more than 900 masks. She’s had requests from healthcare workers at all of the major hospitals in the area.
“I’m so happy I’ve been able to get them in their hands,” Harrell says.
Her husband, David Harrell, who is interim pastor at Hilltop Bible Baptist, helps her deliver the masks, she says, hanging them on the recipient’s doorknob or putting them in their mailbox. Her husband also installed a garden flag in their own yard where she can hang masks for “customers” who drive to her house to pick up their order; all are delivery techniques that allow for social distancing.
Money, though, is never exchanged in the transaction.
“It’s important right now. People need to stay safe, and I don’t feel comfortable putting a price tag on that, and the Lord keeps continuing to bless,” Harrell says. If someone needs their mask mailed, though, Harrell says she will ask that they cover that expense.
It takes her a total of about eight minutes to make each mask, and Harrell says she aims to make 35 to 50 per day. One yard of fabric usually yields 10-12 masks she says, meaning she has a daily inventory need of about five yards of fabric.
Harrell also homeschools her children, ages 12, 13 and 15, and now sews in her “off” time. She says luckily some friends have pitched in to help with sewing when they can. Even her children have occasionally helped in the production line, she says.
“People in the community are giving me fabric and elastic or money to help me buy more. It’s really not me it’s everyone . . .seeing our community come together in the way they do is so amazing,” says Harrell.