ALLEGAN, Mich. — For nearly six years, Landria Christman has been running The Sassy Olive, selling stylish headbands in various prints and styles. When Governor Whitmer ordered non-essential businesses to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, Christman was faced with some tough choices.
Although her shop had to close its doors, Christman wanted to do something to give back; making masks to donate to healthcare workers.
"I have a background in public health, specifically in hospital epidemiology, this had been a weird crossover for me, with my business and my degree," explained Christman. "I decided to just launch a 'Sassy Stops the Spread' Initiative on our website...it made sense because it was something that people needed- and at that time it was healthcare and essential workers that needed it. And I had the ability and resources to make them."
Right away, Christman was overwhelmed by the response.
"My original goal was to make like 2,500 masks and be able to donate them to healthcare workers in need, and that quickly got out of hand. And we got over 10,000 requests in the first day and a half," Christman told FOX 17 News. "That's when I was like alright, I don't think I'm going to sew 10,000 masks by myself."
Turning to social media, Christman put out a call for others to get involved. Many in the community stepped up, helping with sewing and supplies.
"My mom and I both are sewers and we saw Sassy Olive's posts and I said 'Mom, we need to do this, this would be really cool'", said Madalon Vanderbosch, a volunteer who's now been hired to work at the shop. "I'm really thankful to be a small part of it."
The masks aren't surgical grade, but Christman hopes they're the next best thing for those in need.
"I did kind of base my pattern, off of the CDC guidelines, which are approved in a time of crisis," she said. "They're 100 percent cotton and two layers, and they just have a thin piece of elastic that goes behind your ears."
"We were able to donate over 30,000 masks and counting, and that to me is a significant amount of people that we've been able to help. And, hopefully try and make a dent and stop the spread of the COVID-19."
Christman said they plan to keep offering masks as long as they need to. Currently, the shop is donating one mask for every mask purchased.
"The fact that I've been able to give back to [healthcare workers] is very important, because they're the ones that are on the front lines and risking their lives every day, to save ours," she said.
As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Christman is receiving a $300 prize.