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Volunteers making medical masks

‘Grab and go’ patterns offered at Main Street fabrics business

Photo by Mike Lamb Tracy Veglahn at Fabrics Plus in Marshall works to put together kits for volunteers to pick up so they can make face masks for medical personnel.

MARSHALL — Like collecting scrap metal or buying bonds to help the war effort during World War II, community members can do their part to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A local group is coordinating an effort to make masks for health care providers.

“Tracy Veglahn at Fabrics Plus has 300-plus seamstresses that she’s in contact with all the time,” said John Drown, the president of The Legacy Foundation, which is funding the effort. “She’s got a pattern and a video that has been produced. She is coordinating with the hospital system, with hospice, with senior citizens in the county.”

“We are handing out a little kit with fabric, pattern and enough elastic for three face masks — all rolled up,” Veglahn said. “Just grab and go. People can stop in and take one or two and go home and sew them. We’ll keep handing them out as long as needed.”

Veglahn said she is using the pattern that Avera has requested.

The Avera Faith and Community Engage program is seeking volunteers across the region to help craft cloth face masks for use in hospitals and clinics.

The guidelines, instructions, materials and patterns are included in an online story, “How Can I Help Sew Masks for Health Care Workers?” The public can find it at AveraBalance.org.

Creating cloth masks for patients and employees now can help assist in the further conservation of personal protective equipment during this time. These homemade masks will help extend what is available to providers, nurses and others.

Avera Foundation leaders from Marshall, and Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Sioux Falls and Yankton, S.D., will coordinate drop-offs or pickups of the masks. The online story has contact information for each regional foundation, as well as a mailing address for those who want to contribute.

The public can also email Foundation@avera.org for more information on making donations or masks. Foundation members will make sure all donations go to sites where they are most needed.

Locally, The Legacy Foundation is donating $1,000 for materials that will produce about 650 masks at this time, and is prepared to donate the funds to produce at least 1,000 masks total.

The Legacy Foundation is an interdenominational group of Christian men and women who aspire to impact their workplace, communities and families. The foundation provides many opportunities for everyone to grow as a servant leader.

Veglahn has been in continuous contact with the sewing groups who volunteer for Quilts of Valor, making baby blankets for Avera Marshall and Purses for Africa, which helps girls stay in school, she said.

“We have a group of people who have been very generous about sharing their time,” she said.

Fabrics Plus will provide a drop-box outside its parking lot entrance for completed masks and also at Veglahn’s husband’s business, Mailboxes and Parcel Depot, on Southview Drive next to the Auxiliary Thrift Store.

“There’s a big lobby there and people can drop off the masks during business hours,” she said.

While there may not currently be an immediate need for face masks, they will be needed soon and shared as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.

The masks will be used by a variety of entities.

“I talked to Hospice, they would like masks,” Veglahn said. “Daycare providers for hospital staff, they would like masks and we assume we will be getting requests from other community organizations.”

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