A group of Rimbey textile artists are answering a humanitarian plea for fabric face masks to help at-risk groups who are more at risk to complications from COVID-19.
The request came from Parkland Beach resident Connie Kenney’s niece, who is a nurse at a hospital in California.
“She had sent out a plea for fabric face masks for at-risk groups,” Kenney said.
Kenney and her group, the Textile Artists of the Rimbey Art Club, are now sewing masks for both her niece’s request and local at-risk groups such as local Rimbey nursing homes.
The group consists of Kenney, Mikki Collis, Brenda White, Anna Ledieu and Louise Beierbach — who is not a regular with the group but wanted to commit to the cause.
Kenney said their group has also been helped out by a local business. If anyone in the community would like to donate funds to the cause, they can contact Rimbey Craft and Chat who has offered supplies to the group at a discounted price for making fabric face masks.”
Kenney said the idea started small and has since snowballed into a bigger project that Kenney hopes will be able to provide masks for anywhere in the local community that has a need, especially for people caring for seniors and at-risk groups.
”Our first shipment of masks will be 100 from our group answering the humanitarian plea from California,” she said.
The group checked with a local nurse who said, currently, supplies of N-95 masks used for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 are adequate and the system is not asking for the less effective fabric face masks at this time, meaning Kenney and her group are only approaching people caring for the elderly and at-risk groups.
“Our local efforts will include a Senior’s lodge and At Risk Groups. At this time hospitals are not wanting them as they have a good supply of proper PPE,” Kenney said.
Kenney cited Canadian Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, who recently spoke to CTV News, saying homemade masks made from cotton or anti-microbial pillow cases may offer some protection against the virus.
“If we’re talking about people who are looking after elderly parents or elderly people as personal support workers and you need a mask and you can’t get one, there are lots of different ways that you can make your own mask,” Dr. Sharkawy told CTV’s Chief News Anchor Lisa LaFlamme.
Kenney has also been on the hunt for supplies and Northcott Fabric has agreed to ship fabric and thread to the group to help the cause.
Kenney said the group is working day and night.
“It is so great to be able to help. People are wondering how they can help and it is great that we are able to try to help flatten that curve,” she said.
Right now the group is focusing on local, but if they received a plea from somewhere else in Canada — they would answer. Kenney said it does take time to sew the masks properly.
“If anyone is interested in helping us sew fabric face masks and would like to donate supplies — it would be greatly appreciated,” she said.
She added the group is trying to do it’s part to help flatten the curve.
Alberta Health Services says, “The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene. This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately.”
More information on the pandemic can be found at alberta.ca/covid-19.
Kenney added she was inspired by a quote from Canadian WHO physician Dr. Bruce Aylward who said, “It’s a societal duty to work together with common threats. It’s the population of Canada who will stop this disease”
She added, “When this is over the world will never be the same.”