Local makers declare ‘mission accomplished’ after making nearly 2,500 masks

Now that PPE is available on store shelves again, makers say they’ve done their part

ROANOKE, VA. – Hundreds of our neighbors and friends began making masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, and now eight months later, they’re calling it mission accomplished. They stepped up to plug the gap when the supply chain could not keep up and ended up making thousands of masks.

For Susan Loveman, it was an easy decision. She has sewn her entire life. So when medical workers raised the red flag on PPE, she wanted to help.

“And I’m just sitting here in my house thinking what in the world can I do. I just sort of did some google searching and found out about Courtney and the group that she was starting out,” Loveman said.

The ‘Courtney’ Loveman referred to is Courtney Tolley. She founded the Makers Task Force group on Facebook. It pooled nearly a thousand people together to make homemade masks, surgical caps and more for health care professionals and others in our region.

“I expected that maybe we would have a maximum of 70 people and we would share patterns with each other,” Tolley said. “Myself and the other admins of the group rapidly assembled like an entire distribution network that included local stores.”

It started as a stop gap when the global supply chain for basic necessities like masks buckled under the pressure of the pandemic.

Now Tolley said they’ve accomplished their mission with PPE and masks readily available again on store shelves. The group has stopped its distribution efforts although will stay open for members to continue to communicate.

“It really did take on a life of its own and I’m truly amazed at the amount of time people devoted, the amount of resources, and how widespread and helpful the entire community has been,” Tolley said.

The group distributed nearly 2,500 masks, hundreds of surgical caps, ear savers and even face shields. A separate group of people with 3D printers ended up forming their own group from the makers group as well.

Loveman said she’s proud to have played her part, even if it just made a small dent.

“People have done a whole lot more than with their lives than just make masks, people have given their lives so that others can live and it makes me feel very thankful for them and thankful that I had this opportunity to help even if it was just in a small way.”

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