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Every little bit helps: Need for masks is far more than the supply

The need for masks is growing.

While there are many in the community who have been working to meet the rising need for cloth face masks, more help is needed.

Rev. Beth Palmer has been aiding in the effort and is inviting others to join in, especially, now after Mayor George Flaggs, Jr., the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency have encouraged people to wear face masks while in public to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Making a cloth mask is not hard once you get the hang of it,” Palmer said. “And I bet there are folks in our community with dusty sewing machines who could do this if they are encouraged.”

Local State Farm agent Robyn Lea, who has also been making masks, said the homemade versions do not have to be perfect.

“The first batches we had going out, I was like, ‘please don’t judge my skills as a seamstress based on this,'” she said. “Now I am like, be sure and wash these before you wear them.”

Lea and Palmer, along with others in the community who have been making masks from their homes, have been happy to help, but with the growing numbers of masks needed, even more volunteers are needed.

“Our numbers are overwhelming right now,” Lisa Buchanan said.

Buchanan, who works in the Warren County Emergency Management Agency, is acting as a contact point for those in need of masks.

“In the last couple of days I have had people call from the small little groups to the large groups,” Buchanan said. Some of those who have called needing masks include the Vicksburg Police Department, local nursing homes, the children’s shelter, Haven House and more.

“The road department just requested 60 masks,” Buchanan said.

She said that although everyone may not be in a position to churn out hundreds of masks like Palmer and Lea, every little bit helps.

“If one person does 20 and another does 20 we could get more done,” she said. “One person can’t do the numbers I need.”

Lea said her mother and husband, Mark Posey, are also helping to make masks.

“I have a husband who is learning to sew,” Lea said. “This morning he was at my sewing machine because I am still working, so I can’t sew during the day.”

Lea said it is hard to say ‘no’ when people call in requesting masks, therefore she is trying to keep up.

“I just put them on the list when they call,” she said.

The need for others to pitch in, Palmer said, is also due to supply and demand.

Now that Hobby Lobby has closed their doors there are not as many options to buy fabric, which is why Palmer is encouraging seamstresses, who may have extra fabric in storage, to help.

Instructions on how to make masks are available on several websites.

Also, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has a how-to website in making homemade cloth face coverings. There are also videos online of United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams demonstrating how to make a homemade mask using household items like T-shirts, scarves and towels.

For those in need of masks or those who would like to help provide masks, contact Buchanan at 601-218-1409.

“And remember, every little bit helps,” she said.