Sew For Safety
Early in the COVID pandemic, when Peggy Ammerman decided to sew masks for her husband and herself, she was inspired to do something truly wonderful in service to the community. She found a pattern and pulled out her sewing machine to get to work. As she talked to others, it became clear that good-quality masks were in short supply. There were worldwide shortages of disposable masks, and fabric masks had not yet hit the market in adequate numbers. Having experience making masks, she was struck with inspiration and began an effort to alleviate the issue locally. Thus began the “Sew for Safety” movement.
She had the feeling that she needed to start sewing masks for others to use and began collecting supplies. She started removing the elastic from old bedding and collecting fabric from old clothing. As she started working, she searched for materials everywhere she could find them. Her sources included friends who donated to her cause, and she eventually began making as many as twenty or thirty masks per day. At the time, store-bought masks were rather expensive, and she reached out to the United Way of West Central Minnesota to help her find additional ways to source supplies and distribute the masks to those in need. United Way Executive Director Kevin Dietrich was able to provide additional elastic, and soon Peggy had hand-crafted over 400 masks. The masks were also created in different sizes for children, men, and women to provide a safer and more comfortable fit for all face shapes and sizes.
Peggy carried a box of masks with her everywhere she went offering them to others free of charge. She also posted them on Facebook for people to reach out and request them. In fact, she even solicited the help of her six-year-old grandchild who would stand with her on the roadside and giving extras away to passers-by. The United Way also began distributing masks to local organizations in addition to those Peggy was offering.
To Peggy, it was a way that she could make a positive difference in the area and found that there were many benefits to working so hard on this project. Aside from being able to use her skills on the sewing machine, she found the whole project a great deal of fun. She considerably enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people in the community and felt comfort in making a difference during such challenging times for everyone.
The United Way of West Central Minnesota is grateful to Peggy, and all those who helped her by providing supplies and other support, as well as the local organizations who further assisted with distributing the masks. Aside from being a selfless and much-needed task, Peggy provided an example to all of how anyone can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and friends. We are honored to have been a part of this wonderful endeavor.
As the pandemic hopefully begins to subside, the need for masks still exists and is still available to those who need them. We have masks at our office in downtown Willmar for anyone who would like to stop by and pick them up while supplies last.
The team at United Way of West Central Minnesota focuses our efforts on uniting our local communities and fulfilling needs to vastly improve lives and livelihoods for those whom we all live and work. However, the true power of the United Way is in the community support provided. These are the true drivers of positive change. We invite you to become involved whether you volunteer your time or provide much-needed financial support. Your support makes an incredible difference in the lives of others in our area. We are all in this together!