When there’s a need, Montgomery County always finds a way to come together. Maybe it’s fundraising for playground equipment at a school or bringing meals to a family fighting a medical illness. Sometimes, it’s supporting local businesses and sticking together.
But whatever the case, Montgomery County always seems to be there when there’s a need to fill. Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery County as of yet, the pandemic continues to spread all over the country, leaving a shortage of medical supplies.
Just this week, a Facebook group with more than 600 members from all parts of Montgomery County has been volunteering to fill that need making surgical masks.
“It’s really been kind of crazy,” said Ali Luckett of Hillsboro, who started the Facebook group on Saturday. “I didn’t plan for any of it to happen.”
Luckett works as a nurse in the Hillsboro School District, and started the group after her husband’s aunt, Tonya (Luckett) Taylor reached out to her about a need for masks. Luckett’s neighbor, Vivianne Hosto, was making masks and wondered if there was a need in this area for them.
“I made a post on Facebook to my nursing friends asking if they needed masks, and it kind of grew from there,” she said. “A mutual friend in Litchfield said her mom wanted to make some and asked if I could make a group on Facebook to organize volunteers.”
Luckett said she would, and the group had over 350 members in the first 24 hours, all wanting to help in the cause to make masks for health care workers in this area.
“We all know someone working in the health care field right now,” she said. “This gives everyone something to do in their homes and a chance to give back to their communities.”
And there’s a job for everyone. While sewers are definitely needed, volunteers have stepped up to run materials and supplies to the sewers, wash and iron the materials and even keeping a drop box at their homes.
“I’m not sewing at all,” Luckett said with a laugh. “I’m just coordinating the chaos.”
She gave special thanks to her mom, Joanie Davis of Irving, and other community administrators for their help. Other community administrators include Amy Newkirk in Litchfield, Sheryl Koehler, Susie Hamrock in Witt, Laura Fleming in Coffeen, Kiry Aumann in Nokomis and Sally Johnson in Raymond.
Drop off locations are at the Korner Store in Schram City, Rehab Edge in Hillsboro and Mac’s Diner in Witt, also with Marge Holiday in Nokomis, Holly Lemons in Coffeen, Melissa Carp-Eckhardt in Farmersville and Deb Jenkins in Raymond.
To date, the group has already delivered more than 500 masks to Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Hillsboro Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, Tremont Ridge, Nokomis Rehab, Nokomis Area Ambulance, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Hillsboro Area Hospital, Staunton Clinics, HSHS St. Francis Hospital, Carlinville Hospital and more.
“Usually these places would have medical masks, but they’re in short supply right now, and there’s a huge demand. That demand is being met by groups like this.”
Luckett said the group is mostly making simple surgical masks, and patterns and instructional videos are available on the group’s Facebook page. She said they are using 100 percent tightly-woven cotton material and one-quarter inch elastic, which has been hard to find. Many volunteers are using elastic hair ties and headbands.
She added that the simple surgical masks are not as protective as the N95 masks, which have a filter in them, but they do help to protect the health care workers and serve as a reminder for them not to touch their faces.
Group members are also abiding by the social distancing rules. They are not meeting together to sew masks, and pick up and drop offs of material and masks is being done on porches with little contact.
“It’s important that we continue to follow the guidelines,” she said.
The group could use donations of material and elastic, and volunteers are always needed in all areas of the mask making. Luckett said that any leftover material will be used to stuff dog beds for the animal shelter.
“It’s great to see so many people working together and making a difference in our communities at this critical time,” Luckett said.
For more information about volunteering or donating, find the Montgomery County Mask Makers group on Facebook or contact Luckett at 217- 556-8529.