Masks Flying "Off" The Doors
United Church of Bernardston, MA, Mask Making Ministry Offers Masks For the Taking
The United Church of Bernardston in Massachusetts began making masks early in the Covid-19 lock down. Bernardston's pastor the Rev. David Neil says they originally thought about doing a food pantry, but a neighboring town had already started one and opened it up to the Bernardston community. The Bernardston congregation decided they could support that food ministry and focus on something different.
Mask weren't required back in March, but people concerned about spreading the virus still wanted them. So several members of the church and some community members began sewing masks. It wasn't easy.
"Materials were hard to get," said Neil. He had tried ordering elastic for the masks from Amazon, but the shipment was delayed due to supply. With some donated fitted sheets, the Bernardston mask makers did get started, using the elastic from the edge of the sheets. Eventually, the Amazon order arrived along with donations of material from around the community.
One question raised during the beginning of the process was how to get the masks into the hands, and on the faces, of those who needed them. The answer: hang them on the front door; but not necessarily the actual front door. Bernardston has 6 brightly colored rainbow doors in the front yard as a sign of the church's extravagant welcome to all. The mask makers strung the masks up across the 6 doors with a sign reading, "The Mask Connection: free masks."
Each day, volunteers check the masks and add a few more to the string as locals take what they need. The group has a bin with plenty of sanitized masks ready to go on the doors at any time. They continue to sew nearly full time at this point. Neil says they anticipate a surge in demand after Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker issued an executive order last week requiring masks in public places. The order goes into effect May 6.
Even now, the masks continue to fly off the string. One woman wrote to the church thanking them after she drove around wondering where she could find some masks since stores were out of stock. She saw the masks hanging from the doors, stopped, and took some for her family. Others have commented and left messages thanking the church for their work. Neil says the work is well worth the effort:
“Just after we started our mask making program I saw a T-shirt advertised on Facebook with the following statement on it : ‘I became a mask maker because your life is worth my time.’ That sums up why this has become such a passion for so many people. We might feel powerless in the face of a worldwide pandemic but here is something simple and concrete that we can do that is going to add to the current quality of life for our communities.”
To date, Bernardston's Mask Connection has distributed over 300 masks – and more hang ready to go from the rainbow doors every day.
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Drew Page is a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer deaning at Silver Lake Conference Center with his wife, Debby.