Behind the mask

Citizens create masks and caps from home to donate


Submitted photo. Ellen Allard works on sewing masks and caps to donate to local hospitals and citizens. Many people had scraps of fabric around their house that they wanted to use effectively.

Story by Peyton Sims and Kate Morgan

Sherri Waters-Clem displays her templates she makes for face masks and hospital caps. (submitted photo)

In these trying times, it’s no secret that heroes are walking the hospital halls day and night. However, their safety would be far more at risk without the helping hands of community members that are assisting from their homes– one stitch at a time. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, facemasks and hospital caps have been scarce due to their high demand. This has caused many citizens to dig into their sewing scraps and craft numerous efficient and free masks to send off to places in need. 

“I [deliver] my templates to three women. My boss, who is a UMW United Methodist Women president and a part of Angel Quilts, reached out to us,” associate pastor deacon Sherri Waters-Clem said. “I don’t have an example of the finished caps because they’re all at the emergency room, either on somebody’s head or still waiting to be claimed, but I do have some of the masks because we can’t make masks for hospital workers.”

As of now, hospitals in town, like St. Michaels, are not accepting homemade masks in order to avoid any potential exposure to COVID-19. However, they are taking phone numbers and names of people to contact who might be able to supply them with protective items in the near future. 

“[The masks used in hospitals] have to meet government guidelines, but lots of other people need masks,” Waters-Clem said. “I just delivered templates and asked [seamstresses] to make them, and I know that there were around 130 and 150 caps delivered to the hospital.”

While to some sewing is a career, it’s simply a hobby to others. Matter of fact, it’s a very beneficial hobby that’s helping protect essential workers from hospital to hospital. 

“I’ve been sewing since middle school, and I’ve made some clothing items. I sew clothes and toys for my kids and grandchildren. I’m a seamstress, but it’s not a job, it’s a hobby,” retired CPA Ellen Allard said. “I made some [masks] for my family and a couple for some friends. What I did more of were the caps for the nurses at the hospital.” 

Family is what motivates a majority of people to step up, especially if their relatives have underlying health conditions or they exceed the age of 65. 

“The main reason I want to help is because of my husband,” Allard said. “I’m 66 years old and he is 71. He has asthma, and those two things put him in a very precarious position with this virus going around. He doesn’t leave the house unless he has a doctor’s appointment, so I’m the one to get out into the world. And I wear a mask when I go.”

Whether someone’s life is being personally affected by COVID-19 or they just desire to help others, any assistance the city is getting is greatly appreciated. 

“It’s just something that I can do to help out. Instead of just sitting around with our hands in our laps, we wanted to help. Sherri Waters called and asked [if we] would like to make some caps for the nurses so that they’d have something that they could wash with their scrubs and wear the next day when they go back to work,” Allard said. “We all have plenty of fabrics in our closet that have been stacked up for future projects we’ve never done.”

Over 150 scrub caps have been created and many masks have been sewn to benefit hospital workers and other citizens within the Texarkana community. 

 “It was just a joy for us to be able to help the nurses and the medical teams in a little way,” Allard said. “We wanted to brighten up their day a little bit and let them know that somebody else is thinking about them, and we care about what they’re doing to help others. That’s where it comes from. It comes from our heart– it comes from the love of others and to make others lives a little bit better in some small way.”