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Quilt guild offers aid, masks

FAIRMONT — In this time of great uncertainty and immense need for many, the Prairie Star Quilt Guild is doing what it can to help. The group’s most recent project is making face masks for area nursing home residents.

Guild president Carolyn Seidel said fellow member Kathy Wilkening saw a project on the internet, complete with a pattern, to make masks at home. Seidel sent out an email to the 50 guild members strewn across Martin County with the pattern, information and the call to action.

“We’re all doing the same project, but in our own homes. It’s like we’re doing it together, but separately,” Seidel explained.

The guild typically meets monthly at Fairmont Covenant Church, but to slow the spread of the coronavirus, members have been asked to stay home. Luckily, that’s a great place for quilting.

Seidel said cotton fabric is recommended for the masks because it is breathable. She explained that in quilt making, they also use 100 percent cotton.

“We all have a lot of leftover scraps that we call a stash. We can use that to make projects such as these masks,” she noted.

Hand making facial masks recently became a popular project as there is a national shortage of N95 and surgical masks for medical staff and patients alike. Many individuals and groups across the country stepped up to make masks and donate them. While the handmade masks cannot prevent the spread of the coronavirus, they can help prevent the spread of germs and respiratory droplets.

Seidel said the masks are to be worn by residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, not by staff members or medical personnel. She said the hospital cannot accept them.

Staying local is an important pillar of the quilt guild, so it plans to first donate to nursing homes around Martin County.

“I feel like we will exceed what they’re needing here. We’ll first satisfy this need and then send some to Minneapolis,” Seidel said.

The call to action had been to the roughly 50 guild members and Seidel knows nearly half are making masks. They plan to keep track of how many. Each member is responsible for getting the masks to the various facilities and many are donating as they go.

Seidel said they have contacts at various nursing homes so they can drop off the masks without having to go inside.

“The masks can be made pretty quickly. You can probably make several within an hour. Once donated, they launder and sanitize them before they use them,” she said.

As with many other items right now, finding some supples for the project can be tricky.

“It’s become such a craze now that the big thing is finding the elastic. Of course, we don’t want to go out if we don’t have to so I ordered some elastic in bulk on Amazon,” Seidel said.

This isn’t the first time the guild has given to those in need. In the past, it has made and donated quilts to area veterans, cancer patients and recently donated quilt blocks to a guild in Australia, to aid those affected by wildfires.

“We’re always working on something. We enjoy giving back to the community so we’re always working on service projects,” Seidel said.

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