With the nation facing a shortage of protective masks, Pam Toney and her family have stepped up to produce homemade masks to help fill the need.
“I started following this coronavirus since China, and I could see that this is going to get bad,” Toney said. “So, we started messing around with (masks) to see. Now they are needed.”
Toney runs a popular Facebook page called Clinton County Scanner Chatter, which has over 19,500 followers. She has effectively used that page to ask for and receive donations of materials needed to produce the homemade masks.
On Wednesday, Toney dropped off 31 masks at Wesley Manor Retirement Community in Frankfort.
“They texted me right back and asked for as many as I could possibly get my hands on,” Toney said. “I had renal clinics out of Kokomo get a hold of me because they are afraid for their patients’ welfare. So, I am trying to take care of them, too.
“I have gotten an incredible amount of supplies donated from people from my Facebook page,” she added. “They have dropped supplies off in a red bucket on my porch repeatedly for three days, and everybody I know I can get is sewing. Right now, I have a girl named Rachael King who is sewing for me like crazy. My mother-in-law Donna Toney, my daughter Marisol – the whole family really is involved for sure.”
Toney said her goal is to not stop until everybody in Clinton County who needs a mask has one.
“Or until I just run out of stuff,” she said. “Right now, we have given away probably I would say between Rachel and I a few hundred. People are reaching out for them, private people who are sick in the community and who are afraid. We figure if they are afraid and a piece of cloth soothes them, than I am going to get it to them.
“We know it is not 100 percent,” Toney added. “We are fully aware. But what we are doing is trying to give them something if they have nothing, and there is a very good chance that our hospitals are going to have nothing.”
Toney says while her homemade, cloth masks are not 100 percent effective, they are reusable and may even help the N95 particle respirator masks last longer.
“My dream is that everyone who has the real mask would have one,” she said. “These can be boiled for five minutes and they become sterile again, which those (N95) masks cannot. So, they can be used to cover their (N95) masks to prolong the life of them. That is why I see more doctors and nurses are likely to use them now so that they can prolong the equipment they have at the moment. There is such a uncertainty to when they are going to be able to get more. Yet, the cases rise every day.”
Toney says that those who are interested in donating materials and supplies, or who could offer their sewing services, can contact her through her Clinton County Scanner Chatter page on Facebook.
“Just send me a message and one of the team will get a hold of them,” she said. “I would like at least five more people to sew.”