AUSTIN, Texas — In a great example of community collaboration, dozens of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in south Austin worked with local partners to provide 7,500 masks in three weeks to support frontline health workers.
The project was led by furniture maker Austin Couch Potatoes, which switched their factory to making masks when the owners realized that the fabric the company uses to line the cushion cases of its couches is the same that is used for medical masks — nonwoven polypropylene. They provided the supplies and pattern and worked with members of the Austin Stone Community Church to coordinate finding volunteers. Finished masks were distributed by the Austin Disaster Relief Foundation.
Cyndi Harrison is the stake leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ women’s organization, the Relief Society. Harrison worked with Meagan Talley, volunteer coordinator from the Austin Stone Community Church, to arrange for pick up and delivery of materials and finished masks so Relief Society members could get to work.
After the Relief Society members completed more than 2,500 masks in one week, an immediate need from a local hospital for 2,000 additional masks was identified. The same band of women were called upon again. Within an hour of the sign-up time, the Relief Society responded with a commitment to complete another 5,000 masks in the following two weeks.
Speaking to the Austin-American Statesman, Austin Couch Potatoes co-owner, Brian Morgan, said they have been preparing for a year and a half to learn how to sew, to buy equipment, to train a workforce to use the same material in their couches as is needed in surgical masks, without knowing that something like the coronavirus pandemic would happen. “You cannot make it up — it’s a God story,” he said.
When asked why so many women in the south Austin congregations stepped up so quickly to help, Harrison said, “The sisters of our stake have answered the call to sew masks for those on the frontline of the pandemic because they are following the Lord’s commandment to help those in need. By serving, they are also loving and serving their Savior.”
“These women are women of God,” Harrison continued, “who are fulfilling the work and purpose of the Relief Society. By working in unity, each sewing 50 to 100 masks, they were able to magnify their efforts and give back to our community in large numbers, by the thousands, to come to the aid of local hospitals, health care workers and the city of Austin.”
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