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500 masks and counting: One woman's effort to help healthcare workers

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 07:09:45-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Barbara Stoffer is putting decades of sewing experience to good use, by creating hundreds of masks to protect healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stoffer jumped into action after getting a request from a hospital on the east side of the state.

"When this crisis came up they contacted me and asked if I could sew masks for their department. I said, ‘of course.’ And the amount that they needed was a lot, so I threw a post out on Facebook asking if anybody wanted to join my little sewing venture,” Stoffer told FOX 17 News.

It quickly became a community effort, with people dropping off supplies, or sending cash to help with shipping.

"We’ve run out of supplies a lot, but it seems like every time I run out of something, I put something on Facebook and somebody comes through for me. They’re dropping off seam-binding at my front porch, Stoffer said. “We ran out of bias tape and you can’t find it anywhere and the backlog online is so long, so I have somebody from my church who saw I was out of that and has a 3D printer, so he printed, or made, 11 bias tape makers for all of us, which is great, it cuts our work in half when we’re trying to edge these masks.”

So far, 500 masks have been made and distributed in Michigan and beyond.

“We’ve shipped a couple loads to hospitals on the east side of the state, we’ve sent some to a hospital down in North Carolina, an x-ray department right here at one of our hospitals downtown, some hospice nurses, all kinds of healthcare workers are asking for them," she said.

Stoffer said she just wants to do her part to help.

"At a time when we all feel pretty helpless because… if you’re not the healthcare industry or vital service you can’t really do a whole lot. But we can all do this. Everybody can do something, there’s something we can do, even if we’re at home, there’s things we can do to help the overall cause.”

Stoffer plans to continue until there's no longer a need for the masks.

"We’ll keep sending them to wherever they’re needed...We’ll keep sewing for them."

To learn more, or help, contact Stoffer on Facebook.