The COVID-19 pandemic has made wearing a face mask an essential and normal part of everyone’s life. In April, the CDC began recommending that everyone wear a cloth mask in certain public settings and, in multiple cities in Colorado, it is now mandatory that residents wear masks in public and in any outings bringing them within six feet of people they don’t live with. However, a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment has made masks hard to purchase, even for hospitals and health care workers.
Because of this shortage, many people are in need of masks and one of the only ways to get a hold of one is to make one at home or have someone make it. Therefore, volunteers across the nation have been stepping up to create homemade masks for frontline and various community organizations. Colorado is no exception.
Many organizations and groups of people have managed to acquire fabric and thread to share their talents and sewing skills with the community. While some sew masks for family and friends only, others have been volunteering through hospitals and organizations, such as Catholic Charities, to fabricate and distribute them to frontline workers and families in need.
Barb Hepp, a full time pediatric nurse at the Children’s Hospital and parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Northglenn, started fabricating masks for her immediate family, but when she saw the Samaritan House was opening a shelter at the Denver Coliseum and Catholic Charities was looking for people to sew masks, she didn’t think twice and decided to sew masks to help those in need.
“When I clicked on their wish list [Catholic Charities], there it was. ‘If you sew, we need masks!’ I love to sew so then I thought, you know what, let’s rally the troops again and get some masks made for them,” she told the Denver Catholic.
She then decided to reach out to a few coworkers, family, and friends and realized that two of her close friends from church had a mutual friend, a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, who asked them to sew masks for the hospital. They ended up sewing around 100 masks for the hospital at the beginning of April.
“We were told that the way we help is to isolate ourselves. That didn’t feel good. It’s not my nature to stay away and not help,” Hepp said. “My nature is to jump in and help. I like to do more with my hands in my time, that’s how I like to help.”
In addition to the masks they made for the hospital, Hepp and her friends continue to craft and gather masks that they later drop off at Catholic Charites, who distribute them to the most vulnerable and needy.
“When I sew for people, I pray for them. That’s my way to share my love for them. If they’re strangers, I pray for them and share God’s love for that person,” she said. “So to me, sewing is an act of love. Before we deliver them out, I pray for all those people that receive the masks that they will also receive God’s love and protection.”
A friend of Hepp’s, Stacy Moore, found herself sewing again after one of her nurse friends from St. Joseph’s Hospital asked her for help when the nurses didn’t have enough time to make their own masks. Moore made around 40 masks for the nurses and continued her mission by helping Hepp collect more masks for the Samaritan House.
“Maybe people don’t have what they need or have the ability to access, get something, or buy something,” Moore said. “You’re really just sending a message that you’re looking out for other people.”
Although this pandemic has impacted and changed our lives, it is time to unite as a community and as God’s disciples, to reach out to those who need our help. If you want to join this cause and donate essential items to our community through Catholic Charities, checkout their wish list on their website at: www.ccdenver.org/covid19/wishlist.