Due to recent shortages of face masks, a local group is stepping up to help those who are in need of them.

The Facebook group “Let’s Sew Face Masks” came from an idea from Nancy Allen to make face masks for health care workers, while several face masks are flying off shelves during the COVID-19 panic.

“On Thursday or Friday, I saw a Facebook post from a hospital in Evanston, Illinois, that requested local people to make masks, so I thought we could do that here,” she said. “We got the process going Friday, but all I had was my phone, so I asked Jenny Wallace to set up a group on Facebook.”

By 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the group had 661 members and has had numerous orders to be filled.

However, Wallace and Allen said there is a strong need for seamstresses.

“We probably have about two dozen on our Facebook group that are actively talking on Facebook,” Wallace said. “But, with the amount of orders we have, we’re having to fill about half of those orders and move on to others to make sure we can get others done as well. When we get more seamstresses, we’ll go back and fill those orders.”

Wallace said there has been some questions on whether these masks will sit and why there isn’t a large turnout for seamstresses.

However, some encouragement from a doctor who said these masks will get used and it has helped people see their work isn’t getting tossed aside.

“More people are getting on board,” she said. “People are starting to realize there is a need for our hospitals and are jumping in.”

While there are not as many seamstresses as group members, Wallace said those who can’t sew are helping in other ways.

“We’re asking those who can’t sew to help by donating to help with shipping or to pick up fabric and drop off to those that can sew,” she said.

The group not only has helped out locally, but it is filling orders elsewhere.

Allen said requests have been made as far as Montana and orders are being filled in Texas, according to a post within the group.

According to a post Wallace made on Facebook, orders have been or are being filled for the Ministry Center, behavioral hospitals, pharmacies, Arkansas Children’s ER and nursing homes.

While the masks are helpful and can be used, Allen and Wallace both said these masks aren’t N95 surgical masks.

“I call them ‘Better Than Nothing’ masks,” Allen said.

Wallace said they are not on the same level, but these masks are still being used along with N95 masks to help prolong the life of the N95 masks.

Orders are continuing to come, which Wallace said there are about 3,500 masks that have been requested and the seamstresses have filled five orders, amounting to around 125.

She said that over the next couple of days that number can be bumped up to 500.

Wallace said the goal for Tuesday was to fill the eighth order and then introduce more to the group and they will see what they can fill.

The group has a website set up in addition to the Facebook group where requests for masks can be made.

If anyone is interested in getting in contacting the group, they can reach out to Allen via Facebook.

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