Back in April, when the pandemic was still new, masks weren’t mandatory and were a bit hard to come by, a few concerned Sudburians came together to try to get a grassroots effort going to ensure those who needed masks in those early days could get them.
And what a response they received. Sudburians across the city, many of whom suddenly finding themselves with ample time on their hands, pitched in to begin sewing masks. Plus, several businesses agreed to host drop boxes where sewers could leave the fruits of their labours for other Mask For All volunteers to collect.
“Masks were in short supply (at the time),” a press release from Masks For All Greater Sudbury proponents Lilly Noble and Jane Cox states. “We wanted health care workers to have access to all available commercially-made masks so we set out to make the next best thing. Cotton masks.
“At the time, everything was shut down so Sudburians looked in their sewing boxes and found hidden stashes of fabric, thread and elastic and donated whatever they had to the sewists of Sudbury. And they made a lot of masks.”
By a lot, Masks For All means close to 16,000 masks that were distributed to Health Sciences North, personal support workers, daycare centres, long-term care homes and homeless services across the city that care for vulnerable Sudburians.
Masks are readily available now, so Masks For All has pushed pause on all the sewing. Now, they’re acknowledging the collective effort that made the program successful.
“We’d like to acknowledge all the people that helped make it happen so seamlessly (pun),” the group said.
Several Your Independent Grocer stores — Neil’s in Hanmer, Chris’s on Lorne St, Chartrand’s in Chelmsford and Battistelli’s in Lively — hosted collection bins, as did the Shopper’s Drug Mart at Plaza 69, the Church of the Ascension in New Sudbury, Softub on Falconbridge, and Sudbury Steam on Walnut Street.
“If these store owners hadn’t stepped up to help with collection, our work would have been that much harder,” the group said. “So, to thank these community-minded people, we made some plaques to show how much we appreciated their help in the pandemic of 2020.
“We, of course, would not have been able to make so many masks without the tireless efforts of hundreds of sewists and those who donated elastic, fabric, thread, notions, cash, sewing machines and kind words. Thank you, everyone!”