• Rachel Lingenfelter

Makers at Home: Blair County Local Helps Produce Masks for Others

The need for cleaning supplies, masks, gloves and other items is high at this point in time. With COVID-19 still being present in our communities, some have taken it upon themselves to create their own supplies. This time, we got to speak to Alyssa Wills, a local in Blair County who is using her time to create masks to be used at her sister’s workplace. What started off as a simple act of kindness turned into a need fulfilling project.

Over in Philadelphia, a veterinarian hospital called The Pet Mechanic is still essential to the communities it serves. After a phone call home, Wills’ sister made it clear that they were afraid of running out of masks used to serve their patients. With having been laid off from her job in construction, Wills’ decided to figure out a way to help. “My mom printed off a pattern and found some fabric to use and I just started sewing.” She also spoke about her experience being a volunteer firefighter. “As a volunteer firefighter, we are even having a hard time providing masks to our members for calls so I knew I had to do something. Once I had a few made, I had people asking me to make some for them as well.”

Many people have been searching online for were to purchase masks. DIY or Do-It-Yourself projects have become vastly popular, with people deciding to search around the house for supplies to make their own. When Wills began making masks for her sister, the process was a little difficult in the beginning. “I won’t lie a few choice words were used when I started this all but once I got the hang of it everything started going smoothly.” She explains the process and the pieces needed to create your own mask. “It takes 8 pieces of fabric to make one mask. 4 pieces are long strips about 14” long and 1” wide to make the ties that are sewn on each corner. I started by making square masks with pleats but found that it was easier to make fitted masks. Now, each side of the mask takes two pieces of fabric that are narrow on the side and forms a point near your nose. I leave openings at the bottom between each side for coffee filters to be inserted.” Another interesting feature to her masks, she says, “These masks are reversible, too.”

When we asked about the importance of wearing a mask, Wills says it’s not just important to be wearing a mask but it’s important to be wearing one the right way. “I started making these masks, not for the virus per-say, but because people were clearing out the stock available for medical professionals. I believe that wearing a mask right now is important if you do it correctly. I’ve read that many cloth masks don’t help but I think something is better than nothing.” She mentions members of her station who need masks like these. This includes her girlfriend, who happens to have a compromised immune system but still works as a volunteer firefighter with her. “A few of our members have immune deficiencies including my girlfriend who is also still working for an essential business along with volunteering at the department. I hope everyone takes this crisis seriously and protects each other.”

Wills goes on to explain how the pandemic has affected her life. “The pandemic hasn’t changed much for me. My work is seasonal but it has caused my unemployment that I was currently collecting to come to a halt due to the influx of people filing. Not only that, but we are having to implement many new safety measures in the fire department when responding to calls.” Growing up outside of the area helped her be prepared as well. “I grew up in Dysart so I’ve always stayed stocked on essentials because we never knew if a bad storm would hit in the winter, causing us to limit travel to the store. With having someone so close to me with an immune deficiency, it has become hard to find cleaning supplies but I’ve learned to make my own.”

Wills has been keeping herself busy during the stay-at-home request. As many of us are, we are searching for things to do to pass the time. “I feel as though I have adjusted fairly well, I’ve been staying busy making masks and doing housework along with responding to emergencies with the Duncansville Fire Company.” She hopes to soon be able to see family and friends again without the risk of anyone getting sick. A perfect example of an act of kindness turned into a project for more! As a reminder, please stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary. We are doing good to flatten the curve and to keep each other healthy. We want to thank Alyssa Wills for her time and for making masks for the community. You’re making a difference!

Alyssa’s Facebook: @AlyssaWills

Duncansville Fire Company: http://www.duncansvillefire.com/

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