The United States is a country with volunteerism roots that run deep. Neighbors helping neighbors with children, communities working to build roads, churches and town halls, and farmers joining together to raise barns. It’s no surprise that during this year of pandemic that the face of a friend was behind a mask as volunteers stepped up in new ways to help others in Northfield. “Many hands make light work” says the old adage. Kathy Ness already knew many hands that helped with sewing during the pandemic, as she organizes the Boomerang Bag production to reuse cloth instead of plastic bags for the Northfield Public Library (and other locations). Ness contacted Lynette Marks, a registered nurse at Northfield Hospital, and also quilter. ‘Could the hospital use more masks?’ she asked. The answer was yes. Marks knew many others who could sew and put out a call to her network of quilting friends. Seamstresses are often well prepared with fabric, and quilters are known to have large supplies of ‘’fat quarters” at their disposal. Ness and Marks now had access to both sewers and fabric, in March 2020. Then the supplies and volunteers came out of the woodwork! Opening her front door, it wasn’t unusual for Ness to find a bag filled with donations of fabric and thread. The volunteers were kept well supplied until elastic became an endangered species. As in World War II when folks were taught to make do, ties were added to the masks instead of elastic and production never stopped. Many people wanted to help but didn’t want to sew. These volunteers were enlisted to wash fabric, rip one-half yard pieces or to cut fabric for masks in two sizes — for adults or children. If you wear glasses you know of the importance of the nose piece to stop fogging; volunteers tried garden wire, twist ties and pipe cleaners. SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) Union Local #10 heard about the need in Northfield and donated metal nose pieces for the masks in 2-pound increments: each bag held about 2,000 which were divided into small bags for volunteers to take from the COVID Response Supply Depot in the Northfield Chamber of Commerce foyer. The foyer was open 24/7 and supplies for well over 4,000 masks went out. At the height of production the Supply Depot was refilled weekly, adding supplies to make homemade isolation gowns which were greatly needed by local care facilities and health care providers. Additionally, a clothesline in front of the Ness home flew brightly colored masks and a donation box was generously rewarded by those who took masks. Popular fabrics were Batik and cheerful colors for adult masks and Spiderman, trucks, and John Deere prints were enjoyed by the elementary school kids. Financial gifts rolled in from the Northfield Rotary Club, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield Retirement Community, Facebook fundraisers, and many individuals. Masks were donated to the Community Action Center, Three Links Care Center, Northfield Retirement Community, Northfield Public Schools, The Key, Northfield Public Library, Northfield Hospital, Laura Baker Services Association, group homes and countless others businesses and programs. The production has slowed, and Ness will be glad to work herself out of this pandemic volunteer opportunity. The sewers, quilters, hospital donation of filters, the union’s contribution of nose pieces, and support from across the area are all important parts of keeping the community safe, and proof that many hands do make light work.

The United States is a country with volunteerism roots that run deep.

Neighbors helping neighbors with children, communities working to build roads, churches and town halls, and farmers joining together to raise barns. It’s no surprise that during this year of pandemic that the face of a friend was behind a mask as volunteers stepped up in new ways to help others in Northfield.

“Many hands make light work” says the old adage. Kathy Ness already knew many hands that helped with sewing during the pandemic, as she organizes the Boomerang Bag production to reuse cloth instead of plastic bags for the Northfield Public Library (and other locations). Ness contacted Lynette Marks, a registered nurse at Northfield Hospital, and also quilter. ‘Could the hospital use more masks?’ she asked. The answer was yes. Marks knew many others who could sew and put out a call to her network of quilting friends.

Seamstresses are often well prepared with fabric, and quilters are known to have large supplies of ‘’fat quarters” at their disposal. Ness and Marks now had access to both sewers and fabric, in March 2020. Then the supplies and volunteers came out of the woodwork! Opening her front door, it wasn’t unusual for Ness to find a bag filled with donations of fabric and thread. The volunteers were kept well supplied until elastic became an endangered species. As in World War II when folks were taught to make do, ties were added to the masks instead of elastic and production never stopped.

Many people wanted to help but didn’t want to sew. These volunteers were enlisted to wash fabric, rip one-half yard pieces or to cut fabric for masks in two sizes — for adults or children.

If you wear glasses you know of the importance of the nose piece to stop fogging; volunteers tried garden wire, twist ties and pipe cleaners. SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) Union Local #10 heard about the need in Northfield and donated metal nose pieces for the masks in 2-pound increments: each bag held about 2,000 which were divided into small bags for volunteers to take from the COVID Response Supply Depot in the Northfield Chamber of Commerce foyer. The foyer was open 24/7 and supplies for well over 4,000 masks went out.

At the height of production the Supply Depot was refilled weekly, adding supplies to make homemade isolation gowns which were greatly needed by local care facilities and health care providers. Additionally, a clothesline in front of the Ness home flew brightly colored masks and a donation box was generously rewarded by those who took masks.

Popular fabrics were Batik and cheerful colors for adult masks and Spiderman, trucks, and John Deere prints were enjoyed by the elementary school kids. Financial gifts rolled in from the Northfield Rotary Club, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield Retirement Community, Facebook fundraisers, and many individuals. Masks were donated to the Community Action Center, Three Links Care Center, Northfield Retirement Community, Northfield Public Schools, The Key, Northfield Public Library, Northfield Hospital, Laura Baker Services Association, group homes and countless others businesses and programs.

The production has slowed, and Ness will be glad to work herself out of this pandemic volunteer opportunity. The sewers, quilters, hospital donation of filters, the union’s contribution of nose pieces, and support from across the area are all important parts of keeping the community safe, and proof that many hands do make light work.

Northfield Shares is an organization founded to advance philanthropy, inspire volunteerism, and promote collaborative leadership in Northfield.

Recommended for you

Load comments