Edited by Jane Stilley
“Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
As the coronavirus became reality here in Virginia Beach, generous and caring Sandbridge residents dusted off their sewing machines and started making face masks. By April 1, one group realized the need to organize, combine resources and become a sewing circle.
These Sandbridgers, who are known for taking care of each other, swiftly moved into action to keep our community safe. About a dozen men and women gleaned what “do-it-yourself ” resources they had and began making masks initially for the outstanding first responders: the fire crews, EMTs, paramedics and the police. Some members were gifted seamstresses, while others quickly sharpened their skills and learned how to sew.
Through a book club which had decided to go virtual, these 40-plus members spread the word and identified not only financial donors but community members who shared their fabric, their sewing machines, their sewing materials and their capabilities. Designated drivers safely delivered and picked up supplies and materials, others shopped and donated fabric, while others researched and designed innovative nose pieces made of copper strips wrapped in medical adhesive tape. One member also researched and tested the proper filters that would be protective, from vacuum cleaner bags to coffee filters to Filti furnace filters.
Others stepped up and volunteered to cut the filters, carefully cut the delicate Lycra ear strips, assemble the copper nose strips to adhesive tape as well as print user instructions. This as seasoned sewing experts guided rookies through broken sewing machine needles, bobbin mishaps and using miracle clips instead of straight pins for arthritic fingers.
The Sandbridge Sewing Circle supplied the first responders and asked for their feedback. They redesigned their pattern several times to change elastic ear loops to Lycra and experiment with different designs, fabrics and styles.
Group members distributed masks to the elderly and to those on the front lines: cleaners, store owners, cashiers, postal and delivery workers and those who are caregivers or who had urgent doctor’s appointments. They fulfilled requests with love for the Virginia Beach Health Department staff, the Virginia Beach General Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters staff and other doctors and nurses.
Members are proud to say it is amazing to look back after only one month and realize what has been accomplished. They estimate they have made 800 masks so far, but they are continuing to sew and learn.
Kudos go out to those who gave the gifts from their hearts to make this happen: Aerin, Andrea, Ardis, Audrey, Barbara, Bonita, Brooke, Cathy, Charlie, Cheryl, Donna, Ellie, Emilie, Frank, Ginny, Janet, Joan, John, Jonnie, Lawana, Lee, Libba, Kathy G., Kathy K., Kathy S., Marsha, Pat, Sally and Summer.
Be safe, and thank you for wearing a mask. If you need one, the Sandbridge Sewing Circle is here to serve.