When the Shelter-in-Place order began in mid-March, Vicky DeYoung’s quilting group stopped meeting to make quilts for charities. Instead Vicky, a resident since 2013, continued making quilts at home, alone. But then her niece told her about mask making groups that were getting started to provide masks to healthcare workers that couldn’t get enough masks in the early days of the pandemic.
She mentioned her project to her friend Julia Holland, who has lived down the street on Arbolado Drive for the past 21 years, and Julia wanted to help out too. Nearly four months later, the two friends, who met over a shared love of succulent gardening about four years ago, have sewn 2500 masks. The majority have been donated to hospitals all over the Bay Area, including Kaiser, Alta Bates, Sutter Antioch, UCSF, Eden and UCSF Children’s Hospital Oakland. They’ve also made masks for adults and children at day care centers that were open for children of essential workers, the police at SFO International Airport and Meals-on-Wheels delivery drivers.
Vicky’s quilting group had plenty of fabric to share, and Julia had a friend who donated plenty more. Even though the elastic was hard to come by, Vicky eventually found a craft store in Texas that was able to ship it quickly. They found a community of fellow mask makers. As Vicky said, “I have connected with various mask making groups on Facebook and Nextdoor to share patterns, methods and supply sources. My quilting group is also making masks – about 6000 in total with our 2500.” During the early days of the pandemic Vicky and Julia spent 5-6 hours per day at their sewing machines. Initially nurses were wearing these homemade masks over the one provided by the hospital for extra protection since short supply meant having to use the same hospital-provided mask all day long.
Julia added, “It’s been a really good thing for us, to give us a purpose during this time. It’s been very therapeutic to help in this way.”
And they continue making masks and donating them. Now that masks are required by everyone in California, the need is still there. They make different sizes for adults and children and different styles as well. The biggest challenge is finding fabric appropriate for men. Vicky was thrilled to find a solid dark blue fabric for the masks they recently made for the SFO police.
Vicky and Julia have a message they would like to share with the neighborhood: “Please wear your masks and help keep everyone safe.”
Note from the Content Coordinator: In this “Acts of Kindness” column I invite you to share your stories. Tell us about what you or your neighbors are doing to spread kindness. I hope this will inspire us all to make the world a little nicer. Please send stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kara Navolio, Resident since 1991