Becca Hoffmann of Falkland has started sewing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic to help fulfil Personal Protective Equipment shortages felt across the Valley. (Contributed)

Becca Hoffmann of Falkland has started sewing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic to help fulfil Personal Protective Equipment shortages felt across the Valley. (Contributed)

North Okanagan woman sews masks amid pandemic

Masks offer sense of safety and people need that now, says Becca Hoffmann

A Falkland woman is spending her time in self-isolation sewing masks for those who may need them.

Becca Hoffmann is a stay-at-home mom who has always been handy with a sewing machine and with more than 20 years of sewing experience under her belt, it made sense to make masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic to help alleviate the shortages of personal protective equipment.

“In just two days, I had requests for more than 30 masks,” Hoffmann said, after only starting the project around March 23.

The masks, which take around a half hour to complete from start to finish, are not of the same medical grade as the N95 masks worn by medical professionals, but it’s better than nothing, Hoffmann said.

“I’m naturally inclined to help people and this gives me a feeling of purpose in a very unsettling situation,” she said.

Hoffmann said these unprecedented times have caused her to feel anxious, but having this project has helped her focus on something that makes her feel useful.

“I feel as though I can’t sit idly by when I have the skill to help,” she said.

In a recent visit to a store, Hoffmann noticed the cashier was wearing gloves and a scarf as a makeshift mask.

“I felt so badly, I immediately went home and made him a mask,” she said. “Nobody deserves to feel frightened at their work.”

“Even though cotton masks are not as effective as an N95, a small decrease in risk (of exposure) is still something.”

The masks are made with a high-count cotton-poly blend fabric outside layer and flannel-lining interior. They are form fitting with a quarter-inch or half-inch-wide sewing elastic. Hoffmann said those interested in donating materials to be used for masks should turn to Facebook.

A group called Medical Mask Making – Okanagan is a recently created forum and it is the hub for those interested in donating materials or sewing their own mask projects.

She said she is also looking for others who can sew.

In a social media post, Hoffmann called out to fellow sewers and her post has since been shared more than 120 people. She said her post has reached Facebook users from the Sunshine Coast to Ontario.

“The masks give people a sense of safety,” Hoffmann said. “And I think that’s huge right now.”

Hoffmann said there are a lot of user groups and organizations that can use free masks, such as seniors homes and care-aid workers.

“Friends, family, neighbours, people on your streets… I’m sure all these kinds of people would be thrilled to receive free masks.”

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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