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Olds group makes more than 500 face masks

About 260 masks delivered to Mountain View Seniors' Housing
MVT Mask Makers of Olds and Area-3
Fritz Latimer, left, of Mountain View Seniors' Housing receives face masks from Shona Willick of Mask Makers of Olds and Area. Submitted photo

OLDS — Mask Makers of Olds and Area are doing their part to keep the community safe by making masks for free.

Dr. Leoni Kelly, a member of the group, estimates it consists of about 25 men and women including several members of the First Baptist Church.

Most are sewing masks, some are taking requests and distributing the finished product. One elderly man at Sunrise Encore in Olds is bending wires to be sewn inside the masks so they’ll fit better on recipients’ faces.

Many have been involved in the project for about three weeks, connecting with each other over social media.

Kelly estimates the masks measure about three-and-a-half by seven inches

“It’s a universal fit mask,” she said.

(Below: Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, demonstrates how to use a non-medical mask.)

Kelly said the group has made about 500 masks now, distributing them throughout town to those who have requested them. They’ve received requests from individuals and, businesses and health care facilities.

Shona Willick, another member of the group, made about 140 masks in just four days for Mountain View Seniors' Housing (MVSH); part of an order for 260 which the group filled. Willick delivered masks to MVSH last Thursday.

She works there on a casual basis.

During an interview, Willick played down her part, saying she’s just one of many involved.

Besides, she said, she has the time. Her husband, a heavy duty mechanic at Suncor, is away and their children have grown up and left home.

“Like everyone is, I’m just doing whatever I can to help out,” Willick said.

Kelly got involved just after Easter after being contacted by a friend in Nelson, B.C. who used to live in Olds.

As a medical doctor, Kelly knows the importance of masks and practising social distancing as a result of the pandemic.

“Initially I was hesitant because it’s a lot of work. And then I started making my first few masks and I realized, ‘oh, this is a doable process,’ and I spoke to a friend of mine and I spoke to a few ladies that I know – seamstresses,” she said.

“I‘ve done a lot of quilting in the past, so I had a lot of fabric, so it just evolved from there.”

Kelly figures she’s made about 20 masks herself when not doing her regular job as a doctor. She’s also spent much of her time handling orders for masks and distributing them.

She and a couple of other participants also have bins outside their homes where people can drop off donated fabric or masks they’ve completed.

“We’re trying to keep everything as far as possible with social distancing,” Kelly said.

Craig's Store in Olds got lots of praise for providing fabric.

Kelly enjoys sewing. She said while growing up, she began making her own clothes out of necessity.

“I’ve been sewing for many years and I’ve been making quilts for many years and now we’re making masks,” she said with a light laugh.