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Hundreds make fabric face masks, joining grassroots efforts to bolster medical supplies

One group of 500 people is joining a growing movement

ROANOKE, Va. – Hundreds of local people are making face masks to help health care workers and patients stay protected, joining grassroots efforts around the country to support workers on the front lines.

A Botetourt County woman is one organizer of a group of 500 people who are sewing these fabric masks after hearing that there’s a huge need for them.

They’ve made 300 since Friday, giving them to hospitals and other health care facilities. They’re designed to ideally go on top of surgical masks so they can last longer.

Many crafters have previous experience sewing or are using online tutorials.

“Everyone is so happy and has a sense of purpose and they just really want to give back in any way they can,” Tamara Dennis said.

Anyone can join the efforts by reaching out on the group’s Facebook page.

Kelly Barker, a Montgomery County resident, started making them as well and has sold or donated about 100 so far. She’s a cancer survivor and wanted to make sure both health care workers and cancer patients can stay protected.

“I took some to my clinic this morning. I donated some to my bus driver and the food helper this morning. I have a bunch to give out to my cancer center,” she said.

Health care facilities will have to sterilize the fabric masks, and the higher-quality, professional surgical masks are still preferable for workers dealing with COVID-19 patients.