FEATURE - "Many hands can move mountains: Sewing hope into medical masks"

BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Cari Doutre – April 7, 2020


Gloria Rudd is no stranger to sewing and designing clothes and accessories. In fact, she’s made a career out it. But when the world needed seamstresses to step up and make medical masks during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Gloria got quickly to work. She also called in back-up.

Gloria won’t take credit for this project or the effort behind it. She wants the other women who helped with it, 39 to be exact, get the credit and recognition they deserve. It wasn’t a small task and it took a group effort to accomplish it all.

The group uses surgical instrument wrap packs, all donated from hospitals and surgical centers. Every single one of the packs has been tested by the University of Florida and are found to be extremely effective at keeping moisture droplets and germs out. The masks are also washable and reusable.

“I decided to do this after my daughter in Oregon invited me to join a group up there that had started making masks to help their hospitals and first responders because there was such a shortage. I designed a few different masks, researched different fabrics to use, and decided on the Halyard blue surgical instrument wraps because of its moisture blocking and breathability, which has since been endorsed by major universities and the medical community as a good option in times of shortage,” Gloria said. Story continues below...

Gloria Rudd took a quick photo shoot with one of the masks. Photo courtesy of Gloria Rudd.

The project started on March 24. Practicing safe social distancing methods, the organization methods behind the project is also another feat to be recognized.

“We have a great system that is set up on my porch for drop off and delivery of the various aspects of the manufacturing process,” Gloria said.

“We keep the outgoing tubs as full as possible for the cutters and seamstresses who volunteer their time to help with the cause. As soon as we have enough to fill a request, it is picked up or sent to them as soon as possible,” she added. Story continues below...

Material is organized at Gloria Rudd's home for the group. Photo courtesy of Gloria Rudd

There is also a system for where those donated masks go.

“We put priority on filling orders for health care facilities, care centers, first responders and law enforcement and with local businesses needs when possible,” Gloria said. She added that homecare, hospice and law enforcement workers and patients are also receiving those masks.

Another very important part of the process is the women who are contacting resources as well as finding and delivering the materials for the group to use.

And it’s not just sewing skills required to participate in this humanitarian project.

Those that don’t have the skills to necessarily sew the masks are helping out by cutting material and finding resources, such as materials.

So how many masks has the group made so far?

“In the two weeks that we have been making masks, we have donated over 2,500 masks to local, clinics, hospitals, care centers, first responders, essential businesses and women centers,” Gloria said.

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And they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

“We are still sewing with our team of helpers growing in numbers and more requests for masks coming in daily,” she said.

Volunteers came to Gloria after a request for help.

“I put out an invitation on social media for people to help, and the response was amazing. Then, within a few days, we were receiving requests locally for the masks,” she said.

Gloria is amazed at the outpouring of support and service others have given for this project. It’s something that she thinks about every day.

“Their incredible willingness to help makes me cry with gratitude daily and the recipients of our masks and very grateful also,” Gloria said.

To help with this project, they will happily accept donations or money.

“We would love to get more of the blue wraps from hospitals and surgical centers, if anyone has connections that can put in the request to save them for us,” Gloria said. “There have been some monetary donations that have been used to buy cotton fabric and supplies that will be used eventually to make masks.”

Gloria also recognizes others in the community that are also sewing medical masks.

“There are also people out there in our community and all over the country making masks on their own and helping so many people also,” she added.

It’s her motto “busy hands make worries less” that makes these efforts possible.

“It is a labor of love for all who are working on it and we feel grateful to be helping make a difference,” Gloria said.

One other way she puts it is “many hands can move mountains,” she added.

Photo courtesy of Gloria Rudd