ALA members make face masks amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted On: Sunday, 29 March 2020
Carolyn Sasse, a member of ALA Unit 44 in Newburgh, Ind., does her part in the sewing of face masks.

Ronda Hurt, member of ALA Unit 44 in Newburgh, Ind., holds up a face mask.

Not even the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic can completely keep American Legion Auxiliary members from safely and selflessly serving veterans and the greater good within our nation’s communities.

Carolyn Sasse

Carolyn Sasse, a member of ALA Unit 44 in Newburgh, Ind., does her part in the sewing of face masks.

That’s especially true in Newburgh, Ind., where several members of ALA Unit 44 and five nonmember volunteers are using their sewing skills to make face masks for a local hospital’s staff, and other workers in their community who treat or care for military veterans.

“We have a passion for veterans and helping them any way we can. We’re just frantically sewing. We’re like Rosie the Riveter, but with sewing machines,” said ALA member Juanita Lindsey. “We want to help stop the spread of coronavirus.”

The group has completed 203 fabric face masks, has the materials ready to complete 200 more, and are awaiting specifics on a few other requests for masks. All of the sewing and cutting is being done in adherence to social distancing recommendations, state travel and gathering restrictions, and Centers for Disease Control guidelines for sanitizing materials and about person-to-person contact.

“We are spraying everything with disinfectant. When we take the masks to the nursing homes and other facilities, they know what to do to sterilize them,” explained Lindsey, who has donated the flannel and cotton fabric for the masks. Lindsey, an avid quilter, already had the fabric at her home prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in America. Everyone working on this mask production project is part of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 44 Quilters Club, which formed within the unit 10 years ago.

The project started about two weeks ago following a request for masks made to the general public by Deaconess Hospital in nearby Evansville for medical staff conducting COVID-19 testing, Lindsey said.

Once the hospital got all of the masks it needed from various sources, the quilting group decided to focus on making masks for workers who treat, care for, or serve veterans in Newburgh only. Over the last week, the group has made masks for a nursing home and is in the process of making more for two other nursing homes, a senior living facility, a rehabilitation center, and the local post office – where veterans make up 60% of the staff. Also, the group is making masks for VA nurses who treat local VA patients in their homes.

pile of face masks

A pile of face masks made by members of ALA Unit 44 with the help of five nonmember volunteers.

Working with Lindsey to make the mask are ALA Unit 44 members Ronda Hurt, Carolyn Sasse, and Theresa Durst. Not a seamstress, Unit 44 member Cathy Felderbush contributes by safely delivering supplies to the other mask makers or transporting completed masks to the numerous sites with a pre-arranged drop-off procedure. Nonmember volunteers on this project are Marian Johnson, Ruth Edgerton, Carol Elmer, Ginny Baker, and Karen Kyle. Elmer and Baker are registered nurses.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.