‘We’re just trying to be God’s hands and feet’
LYNDEN — Last Friday Debbie Carl was at the JoAnn fabric store in Bellingham when she saw a woman in tears. Carl asked her what was wrong.
“I am a nurse and we have no masks,” the woman said.
“I was pretty shook up,” Carl said. She spoke to her mom, Maxine Stremler, and they decided to use their sewing and quilting abilities to make protective masks for those who need them.
Mother told daughter about how during wartime, people would make bandages from fabric, and this was similar except to create masks.
Carl is a caregiver, but with COVID-19 the health risk is too high for her to be working around high-exposure people right now.
“I’m a caregiver, not caregiving,” Carl said. But she still wanted to find a way to give to the community. “Lynden is an important community to me.”
Her mom is in a sewing club and both she and Carl are avid quilters, with a large stockpile of fabric. They have been able to use what fabric they have on hand to create masks. They needed elastic, but the supply in the area right now is slim. After they ran out, Carl said she saw on Facebook that other mask makers had started to use hair ties from the dollar store — so they tried it out.
“Hair ties work incredibly. We had to improvise, and they can color coordinate better,” Carl said.
She describes this as a “small little operation,” with just her and her mom working on it. “The way things are right now are kind of scary and we’re just trying to be God’s hands and feet,” she said.
It takes about 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to make one mask. The made ones are either mailed out, or Carl gives her address to those who need one and a mask is put in a baggie on the porch for pickup.
The duo has completed about 60 masks so far, of which some have been sent off already to Georgia. The women are working on sending some to an Aberdeen hospital, made one for a truck driver, and gave some more to locals in need. Carl said they made a mask for someone who is going through cancer treatments.
Right now, Carl says, there are many people in the county working on masks for healthcare workers.
“Makes me feel so good we’re not the only ones — that’s the amazing part,” she said.
Some of those others are making masks with a filter in them, but Carl says the ones she and her mom are making are 100% cotton since the other material is harder to come by.
People have offered to pay the mother-daughter pair for the masks and have offered to donate materials. Carl says they are not accepting any payments for their work.
“People have offered to pay; we don’t want to take anything. We are using what we have. We don’t want to take anymore,” she said.
People can contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.