As part of new volunteer group effort in Surrey, Becky Finley has made close to 200 masks in recent weeks – that is, until her 45-year-old machine sewed its last stitch.
“It just died, actually, on my last mask,” said Finley, a former nurse. “I’ll have to get a new one.”
So far, more than 500 masks have been made for those who need them, including frontline workers at Kinsmen Lodge, and the need is growing for both masks and gowns.
The 66-strong volunteer group – which involves community members, not elders who live at the Lodge – was formed to fight the COVID-19 virus with donated time, skills and materials.
Christopher Harrison, the facility’s director of recreation, said Sew4Us is based on a similar Kamloops group that has made 6,000 masks.
“We knew about the group in Kamloops and we wondered if Surrey has the same type of community (spirit), and so far I’m pleased with the response we got,” Harrison said. “I’m surprised we got so many masks made in such a short period of time. Now we want to go bigger, with more help.”
He added: “We’re looking for donations of everything – the cloth, the elastics for them and also fabric. I have cloth enough here for another 100 masks currently, so we could use some more.”
A lifelong sewer, Finley has a friend who lives at Kinsmen Lodge.
“Volunteering is in my family,” she said. “In my mind, Canada hasn’t had a crisis like this since World War II, where people are needed to step up and do something. That’s when women stayed home and made scarves and hats, made bandages, so I just I just feel like it’s our duty to step up and try to help right now.”
At her Ocean Park-area home, Finley set up “a bit of an assembly line” and got sewing.
“They gave me a bolt of fabric the first time, and then I bought my own and that kept me sewing,” she said. “We’re trying to help where we can, and it’d be great to get some other people sewing, too.”
The Facebook page includes mask patterns and links for donated sewing materials, requests for completed masks, and more. To get involved in Sew4Us, search for the group name on Facebook.com or email Harrison at email@example.com.